Conservative peer Norman Tebbit, who was seriously injured along with his late wife in the 1984 IRA Brighton bombing, has said he reluctantly backs the British government’s legacy proposals.
Lord Tebbit said that while he sympathises with victims seeking justice, any prospect of IRA terrorists being brought to justice had been effectively dispensed with in the 1990s.
He stressed the problems with legacy stemmed from former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, which rubber-stamped the early release of republican terrorists to secure the Good Friday Agreement.
“It’s not a good decision, but it’s the best decision that could be made,” Lord Tebbit told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.
His comments follow widespread criticism of the proposals to end all Troubles-related prosecutions.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced on Wednesday that he intended to introduce a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for incidents up to April 1998.
This mechanism will apply to military veterans and former paramilitaries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the move would enable Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”.
“We are finally bringing forward a solution to this problem to enable the people of Northern Ireland to move forward,” he told MPs.
The plans would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the Troubles.
But they have prompted victims’ groups and political parties to accuse the British government of trying to legislate a de facto amnesty across the board, which shields veterans, former members of the security forces and terrorists.
Cross-community victims’ group Wave said that “victims and survivors should not be treated this way”.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said the issue would be discussed with Mr Lewis at a meeting of the Stormont Party Leaders’ Forum later today.
The SDLP has called for the recall of the Assembly from its summer recess to address the controversy.
Five people were killed and 31 injured in Brighton when a bomb planted to target then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ripped through the seafront Grand Hotel during the 1984 Conservative Party conference.
Margaret Tebbit, who was left paralysed after the attack, died last December aged 86.