Foster urges Johnson to prevent ‘vexatious’ prosecutions of soldiers


First Minister Arlene Foster has called on British prime minister Boris Johnson to protect security force members living in Northern Ireland from “vexatious claims”.

Following the prime minister’s pledge to prevent “vexatious” prosecutions of soldiers who served in Northern Ireland, the DUP leader urged Mr Johnson to consider troops still living in the province.

Ms Foster told Sky News: “I hope that he [Boris Johnson] does it in a way that recognises not just soldiers and British soldiers who live on the mainland but also he takes into account those people who continue to live here in Northern Ireland.

“Security force members who continue to live here in Northern Ireland need to be protected as well from vexatious claims.”

Ms Foster also called for a review of the Stormont House Agreement regarding proposals for victims of the Troubles and the remit of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

“The Stormont House Agreement is five years old now, nearly six years old, it’s important that we look at all of the consultation responses that came in from various victims’ groups to see what they want,” she added.

“I think we need to revisit the Stormont House Agreement because what is being proposed, and we made this clear in our consultation response at the time, is not acceptable to the victims’ groups here and it’s certainly not acceptable to us.

“There needs to be a re-look at the Stormont House Agreement , particularly in relation to the remit of the Historical Investigations Unit, the HIU, which is there to look at historical cases.”

She added that the British government is aware of how serious the issues are.

“There is a need to deal with these issues but it has to be done in a way that recognises fairness and recognises what actually happened here in Northern Ireland over 35-40 years, the fact that we did have a terrorist campaign and there were so many innocent victims as a result of that,” she added.

Bridge

Asked about Mr Johnson’s support for a bridge linking Northern Ireland and Britain, Ms Foster said the idea should be scoped out.

Mr Johnson told MPs to “watch this space” when questioned about his support for the bridge idea just days after last month’s general election.

Ms Foster added: “I support the government in putting money into infrastructure, but it has to be done in a way that we get value for money, and it has to be done in a way that is project managed in the correct fashion.

“I think it should be scoped out, I think we should be ambitious.” – PA



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