Troubles: Lord Hain questions legacy proposals

By Gareth Gordon
BBC News NI Political Correspondent

Lord Hain
Image caption,
Lord Hain, who was Northern Ireland secretary from 2005 to 2007, says he is opposed to Troubles amnesties

The government's Troubles legacy proposals could embolden paramilitaries, a former NI Secretary of State has warned.

The vast majority of unsolved cases would be closed.

Peter Hain said that may make dissident republicans and loyalists believe if they wait long enough their crimes could be "written off".

Lord Hain made the comments at an NI Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Image caption,
The Troubles claimed more than 3,500 lives

The new approach would also mean closed cases would be prevented in legislation from ever being reopened.

However, both Lord Hain and former Conservative government adviser Lord Caine said they were opposed to amnesties.

The former Labour NI secretary also criticised a claim by the Justice Minister Naomi Long that victims may not start receiving payments from the Troubles pension for six months.

Naomi Long's department was designated by the executive to administer the long-delayed scheme last month.

However, Mrs Long said a number of "operational steps" needed to be taken before the first payments could be made.

Lord Hain described the delay as "simply not good enough".

It is anticipated the scheme will now be open for applications in March 2021.