Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(2)

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (Rule of Law) – in the House of Commons at 8:59 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 8:59 pm, 9th September 2019

On my last visit to Derry/Londonderry, I spoke about the medical campus, and we are working to ensure that we do everything we can in the Northern Ireland Office to support it. Again, however, we need the Executive—Stormont—back up and running to make sure the money flows to that campus.

This Government are unequivocal in our admiration of the armed forces, who served with heroism and bravery to protect the people of Northern Ireland and whose sacrifice has ensured that terrorism would never succeed. The Government will never forget the debt of gratitude we owe them. Providing better support for veterans is a major priority for this Government, and the creation of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs is an example of the strength of our commitment.

I want to be clear: I absolutely recognise the sentiment and the principle underpinning these amendments, and I recognise the strength of feeling across the House on this matter. We have been clear that the current system for dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past is not working well, and this needs to change. As the Prime Minister said recently in this House, it is

“common ground” across all Benches that it is simply

“not right that former soldiers should face unfair”—[Official Report, 25 July 2019;
Vol. 663, c. 1467]— and repeated investigations, with no new evidence, many years after the events in question. Two very important further amendments have been submitted, and I want to address these in turn.