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Brandon Lewis accused of 'inaction' and 'scapegoating' over Northern Ireland legacy issues

Brandon Lewis has been widely accused of showing disrespect to victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles

Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, has come under fire from a victim’s support group who has accused him of “inaction” in dealing with legacy issues related to the long-running Northern Ireland conflict.

The spat between Lewis and victims of the low-level Civil War in Northern Ireland (which largely concluded in 1998) comes in the wake of the government’s decision not to hold a public inquiry into the murder of one of the most prominent victims of the Troubles, the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

The row between Northern Ireland victims’ group Wave and Lewis erupted after the latter told the House of Commons (December 02) that Wave had asked him to “pause” the engagement around the proposed new legacy plan because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

"It was actually the Wave group back in March who asked us to pause the engagement as they were focused, and their members were focused, on Covid [pandemic], which I think was a reasonable position”, Lewis told Parliament.

Lewis’ statement drew a furious response from Wave’s spokesman who said: "It is frankly pathetic that the SoS [Secretary of State Brandon Lewis] should seek to scapegoat Wave, and by extension victims and survivors, for nearly nine months of his own inaction".

"At no stage did we even remotely suggest that that engagement on this unilateral departure from the Stormont House Agreement should be 'paused'”, the spokesman added.

The bitter dispute centers around government proposals back in March to radically rethink the approach to dealing with Troubles-related violence, notably unsolved murders and potentially cases of collusion between British security forces and Loyalist terrorists.

The current approach would see the great majority of nearly 2,000 unsolved murder cases closed down permanently, with follow-up legislation introduced to prevent them from ever being reopened.

The proposed legislation is widely seen as particularly favorable to the British army as it would protect its accused veterans (who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles) from the risk of prosecution.


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