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Fast-track or backtrack? Amnesty plan is not a foregone conclusion

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24.07.2021

Conservative MP Mark Francois might not be described as the sharpest tool in the Westminster parliamentary box. Among the Honourable Gentleman’s contributions to enlightened debate have been that his military service meant he “wasn’t trained to lose” (Francois served in the Territorial Army) and informing us that, like his D-Day veteran father, he will “never submit to bullying by any German”.

Yet, amid the unsurprising fury over the announcement by his party colleague, Brandon Lewis, of a statute of limitations on Troubles investigations, Francois asked an interesting question which further discomfited his party colleague. He wanted to know exactly when legislation would arrive.

Francois may have been asking for the wrong reasons, obsessing about that obnoxious term, “vexatious prosecutions” — as if justice for families of victims is trifling. But his continuing anxiety over an unfulfilled Conservative election manifesto pledge indicated that legislation from Lewis is not quite — yet — a foregone conclusion.

I spoke to two Conservative MPs this week. They had diametrically opposing views, not only of the statute of limitations, but on its imminence. “Railroaded through this autumn” said the first. “Might never get through — watch the stalling” said the second. While the first view may prevail, Francois clearly feared the prevarication many might welcome.

The Government’s proposals state that establishing “a collective way forward” — good luck with that — will allow legislation to be “introduced as........

© Belfast Telegraph


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