I met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, in London, on 6 March. I made clear to the Secretary of State the Government's deep concern at the statement she had made earlier that day, regarding deaths caused by British soldiers and police during the Troubles, which had caused intense hurt and distress to families who lost loved ones in dreadful circumstances.
I underlined the need for investigation of all Troubles-related deaths, implementation of the Stormont House Agreement legacy framework, and honouring of the commitment under the 2001 Weston Park Agreement for a public inquiry in the Pat Finucane case.
I reiterated to the Secretary of State the Government's position that there must be effective investigations into all deaths during the Troubles, regardless of the perpetrator. I underlined that there are no amnesties from prosecution provided for in the Good Friday Agreement or any subsequent Agreements, including the Stormont House Agreement, and that the Government has been clear that it would not support any proposal to introduce such a measure, for state or non-state actors.
I also emphasised the imperative of moving ahead with legislation to establish the Stormont House Agreement legacy bodies, including to provide an effective system for investigation of outstanding legacy cases in Northern Ireland.
The Secretary of State acknowledged the deeply-felt hurt and concern her comments had caused, and stated that this was not intended. Secretary of State Bradley also confirmed the British Government's continuing support for the Stormont House Agreement and its intention to progress the necessary implementing legislation. She also affirmed that all Troubles-related deaths must be effectively investigated in accordance with the law, whatever the circumstances and whoever the perpetrators.
The Secretary of State's subsequent statement on 7 March which apologised for the offence and hurt caused by her statement to families who lost loved ones is important. It is also important that the Secretary of State publicly confirmed that what she had said was wrong, that "where there is any evidence of wrongdoing this should be pursued without fear of favour whoever the perpetrators might be", and that this is and will remain the basis of the British Government's approach to dealing with legacy issues.
The Government will continue to engage with the British Government to seek the establishment of the Stormont House Agreement legacy institutions, in order to meet the legitimate needs and expectations of victims and survivors, for whom delivery of a comprehensive legacy framework is long overdue.