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Secretary of State James Brokenshire under spotlight over legacy issues

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

THE Secretary of State has come under renewed pressure to break the deadlock on dealing with the past.

A freshly-published report on legacy by UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff, coupled with a Pat Finucane Centre advertisement in The Irish News today criticising the British government, look likely to intensify the focus on the fall-out from The Troubles.

James Brokenshire will mark six months as secretary of state in just three weeks' time but despite pledging from day one that addressing legacy issues was one of his key priorities, there has been no substantive advance in the process for dealing with the past.

The outline of a plan was included in 2014's Stormont House Agreement and again in last year's Fresh Start. However, implementation is log-jammed by the British government's national security veto and a hold-up in funding for historical inquests.

However a hard-hitting UN special rapporteur's report concludes that national security concerns cannot override the state's obligations to provide information about the past.

Human rights expert Pablo De Greiff's report also echoes calls for the Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan’s plan on legacy inquests to be resourced and implemented.

In a separate development, the Pat Finucane Centre has taken an unusual two page advert - containing blank pages - which invites victims of the Troubles who feel let down by institutional failure to deal with the past to us the space to share their frustrations with Mr Brokenshire.

Last month, the Northern Ireland Office indicated that the secretary of state wanted to shift the process to a "more public phase", suggesting a public consultation on implementing legacy issues was imminent.

However, more than five weeks later and a year on from Fresh Start, victims and their advocates remain disappointed by a lack of progress.

Meanwhile writing in a joint platform piece in today's Irish News to mark six months in office, the first or deputy first ministers outline their priorities to restructure the region over the next decade.

However they fail address the issue of legacy among their priorities.

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