Minister slams foot-dragging over law to protect Troubles veterans

Minister slams foot-dragging over law to protect Troubles veterans

Minister slams foot-dragging over law to protect Troubles veterans from historic prosecutions

  • Johnny Mercer openly criticised the Government’s ‘pace of progress’ over promised legislation to protect soldiers who served in Northern Ireland
  • Veterans are unhappy with ministers’ failure to fulfil Tory manifesto pledge to protect them from ‘vexatious’ historical prosecutions
  • Soldiers fear being hauled to court over incidents during the Troubles 

The Veterans Minister has openly criticised the Government’s ‘pace of progress’ over promised legislation to protect soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.

Johnny Mercer said veterans were unhappy with ministers’ failure to fulfil a manifesto pledge to protect them from ‘vexatious’ historical prosecutions.

Plans for a Northern Ireland Bill to address the complex issue have stalled and hundreds of soldiers fear being hauled to court over incidents during the Troubles.

Johnny Mercer said veterans were unhappy with ministers’ failure to fulfil a manifesto pledge to protect them from ‘vexatious’ historical prosecutions 

Six have been charged with offences relating to shootings as long ago as 1972. 

Mr Mercer has previously been criticised by veterans over the lack of progress.

The ex-Army captain said his commitment was ‘unwavering’, adding: ‘To try and shift UK Government position towards looking after these people and preventing the repeated and vexatious nature of litigation against those who served is a huge task. 

‘I am convinced we will get there in the end.’ 

A Royal Ulster Constabulary police officer looks at the damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, Co Tyrone, in 2000

He told Bauer Media: ‘I am not happy with the pace of progress.’

Dennis Hutchings, 79, an ex-Life Guards soldier, is to face trial this year for attempted murder after previously being cleared twice. 

He said: ‘We are absolutely disgusted with the Government.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The Government has been clear it will bring forward separate legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles, which focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims, and ends the cycle of investigations.’

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