Good Friday Agreement Amnesty

The agreement was reached between the British and Irish governments as well as eight northern Ireland political parties or groups. Three were representative of unionism: the Ulster Unionist Party, which had led unionism in Ulster since the early 20th century, and two small parties linked to loyalist paramilitaries, the Progressive Unionist Party (linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Democratic Party (the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Two of them have been widely described as nationalists: the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the Republican party affiliated with the Provisional Republican Army. [4] [5] Apart from these rival traditions, there were two other assemblies, the Inter-Community Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Women`s Coalition. There was also the Labour coalition. U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell was sent by U.S. President Bill Clinton to chair the talks between parties and groups. [6] Downing Street rejects neither the Defence Minister`s call for amnesty on issues related to sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, the dismantling of weapons, demilitarization, justice and the police were at the heart of the agreement. The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Unionists and the moderate nationalist SDLP yesterday criticised Tony Blair for giving an effective amnesty to anyone accused of crimes in Northern Ireland before 1998. The SDLP said that members of the security forces involved in a “planned assassination by the state” would be released. Northern Ireland political parties that approved the agreement were also invited to consider the creation of an independent advisory forum, which would represent civil society, with members with expertise on social, cultural, economic and other issues, and would be appointed by both administrations.

In 2002, a framework structure was agreed for the North-South Advisory Forum, and in 2006 the Northern Ireland Executive agreed to support its implementation. Such an amnesty, legally defined as a “prescription period,” was recommended by members of the Defence Committee and advocated by supporters of Westminster and army veterans. “There is no amnesty for prosecutions under the Good Friday Agreement or subsequent agreements, including the Stormont House Agreement,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. The British and Irish governments have pledged to prematurely release prisoners serving prison sentences in connection with the activities of paramilitary groups, provided they maintain “a full and unequivocal ceasefire.” The cases were reviewed individually. [12] There was no amnesty for crimes that had not been prosecuted. Although the government insisted that the applicants be subject to “judicial proceedings,” the so-called “on the run” system has been described as an amnesty for terrorists. In 2004, negotiations were held between the two governments, the DUP, and Sinn Féin, for an agreement to restore the institutions. The talks failed, but a document published by governments detailing the changes to the Belfast agreement was known as the “comprehensive agreement.”