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Analysis: Victims have been used as currency for too long

Widow Brigid Hughes, (centre), leaves court with solicitor Peter Corrigan of KRW Law.

THE fact that the widow of a man shot dead more than 30 years ago had to take a lengthy court case in order to have an inquest into her husband's death, is quite shameful.

The unilateral decision taken by then first minister Arlene Foster to stop legacy funding has had ramifications for the 50 plus outstanding historical inquests and the hundreds of relatives, some who have waited more than 40 years for a ruling on the cause of the deaths of their loved ones.

The Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan has repeatedly called for funding - ring-fenced for legacy - to be released to allow the Coroner's Court to adhere to an inquest timetable that would clear the backlog within five years.

Until now his pleas for a sensible and compassionate approach to inquest funding has been ignored.

The case was taken by Brigid Hughes, whose husband Anthony died in May 1987 when he was caught in crossfire between soldiers and the IRA at Loughgall.

Solicitor Darragh Mackin of KRW Law, who represents the family, said it was never an "acceptable position to allow one limb of the judicial system to grind to a standstill on the basis of the perception that it would unduly favour a particular class of victim".

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International said yesterday victims should not been used as "political fodder".

"The Secretary of State must act without delay ... and immediately release funding for legacy inquests", she added.

Her words are part of a growing call for Karen Bradley to end the stalemate, something she has the power to do in the morning.

Victims have been used as currency in negotiations throughout the 20-years of the peace process and it's time that stopped.

Nothing highlights the failure of our devolved political system more than a widow who has waited more than 30 years for answers, relying on a court ruling, and Westminster, to end her long, painful ordeal.

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