Jeff Rooker on Thursday night seemed to indicate that when the OTR legislation goes to the House of Lords, it will almost certainly have to be a amended. It goes into the committee stage next week and the DUP have some fifty five amendments tabled. The ones to keep an eye on are the introduction of some kind of timetable and a requirement for the returning OTR to show up in person.From Peter Robinson:
This is a piece of legislation that we cannot support in any form as it is an affront to justice and an insult to the victims of the Troubles. We have however, through our amendments, sought to make considerable changes to virtually every aspect of the Bill.
The detailed committee stage of the legislation will begin next week and further amendments to the Bill are likely to follow. Already we have tabled 55 amendments to the Bill to be debated at committee stage and it is clear from yesterday’s debate that there may well be very considerable support right across the House of Commons for some of these amendments.
Our amendments address a whole range of issues including the following:
– We propose to make anyone guilty of an offence, such as murder, which can attract a life sentence, ineligible for the scheme.
– We propose to tighten the guidelines for eligibility for applicants to the scheme by ruling out those who have been imprisoned for any offence since 1998.
– We propose that any more illegal activity from the paramilitary organisation that the applicant has supported would render him ineligible for the scheme.
– We propose that there should be separate provision for members of the security forces further distancing the security force provisions from the terrorist provisions.
– We propose that the scheme should not apply to people who support organisations which continue to exile people from Northern Ireland.
– We propose that unless an applicant has demonstrated remorse they should not benefit from the scheme.
– We propose that rather than serving no time in prison, those who benefit from the scheme should serve at least one third or five years of their sentence.
– We propose that there should be extensive rights for victims including the ability to make representations to the Special Tribunal, the ability to appeal a certificate and the ability to require the Special Tribunal to deal with cases where those believed to be responsible for offences do not come forward.
– We propose that there should be a time limit of six months for applying for a certificate.
– We propose that all of the enquiries into security force activities during the Troubles should cease.
– We propose that the applicants should be required to attend the Special Tribunal.
– We propose that any evidence obtained in this process should be able to be used in civil proceedings against the accused.
Even if all of these amendments were passed, the Bill would still represent an unacceptable step for the Government to take but at least it would be an improvement on the total immorality of the current bill.
We will use every Parliamentary opportunity to do all we can to block the passage of this legislation and the Government will be given a rough ride at every stage of legislation. The matters we have tabled will give Members of Parliament the opportunity to fully examine every aspect of this legislation and highlight the outrageous nature of the Government proposals.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty