Simon Coveney’s legacy vow stirs angry unionist reaction

Unionists have challenged Dublin to put its own house in order after it vowed to “call out” British ministers if legislation addressing the legacy of the Troubles is unbalanced.

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 10:46 am
Irish Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has voiced concern that NI nationalists have no voice in Westminster on legacy matters. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Irish deputy premier Simon Coveney said the political debate at Westminster about the Troubles was one-sided.

The UK is preparing legislation to investigate thousands of unresolved killings during the 30-year conflict.

Mr Coveney told the Seanad: “Legacy is complicated and difficult, and in some way the debate is somewhat one-sided. That poses huge dangers and creates real concerns amongst the nationalist community, in particular because of the lack of a voice to create balance in that debate in Westminster.

“Whatever way you describe it, there is not a balanced debate on this issue.

“The secretary of state [Karen Bradley] faces real challenges in ensuring that we have legislation that is fully balanced and fair, and takes into account the sides equally in terms of the balance of that legislation.”

But UUP justice spokesman Doug Beattie MLA hit back.

“Dublin needn’t start handing out free advice to others until it reveals what it knows about the Troubles,” he said, “not least the campaign of ethnic cleansing along the border, the hundreds of attacks which started in the Republic, or where killers fled to the Republic, plus the numerous arms dumps and network of safe houses that were situated there.”

TUV leader Jim Allister was also angered.

He said: “Mr Coveney has some cheek talking about things being ‘one sided’ considering the side his country took when our country was under vicious terrorist attack: systematically the Republic refused extradition and gave safe haven to the murderers, as well as colluding, as demonstrated by Smithwick.”

Both men also claimed Dublin has failed to provide full disclosure to the Kingsmills massacre inquest.