Northern Ireland news

More cases threaten Lord Chief Justice's five-year inquest plan

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan proposed a five-year plan to deal with a backlog of Troubles inquests

A FIVE-year plan to clear a backlog of Troubles inquests will not be achievable if more cases continue to be referred, the north's most senior judge has warned.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan set out proposals in February to deal with dozens of outstanding cases.

However, he expressed disappointment earlier this month after it emerged the Stormont Executive had not even discussed a bid for funding.

There are already 97 deaths linked to the Troubles awaiting inquests and a further 87 are being examined by Attorney General John Larkin - whose office is actively working on 24 of the new files.

A spokesman for Lord Chief Justice told The Detail website that even if funding was made available, the five-year plan was only intended to deal with legacy cases already before the coroner's court.

"If further cases are referred by the Attorney General, the Lord Chief Justice could not commit to completing all of those cases within that time frame", a spokesman said.

"The Lord Chief Justice is aware, from having met with the Attorney General and others when he was considering the way forward, that further referrals were a possibility.

"The plan would need to be reviewed if additional cases are directed by the Attorney General in the future.

"However, the Lord Chief Justice believes that it remains possible to deal with this element of the past and he has already said publicly that the incoming Executive needs to agree a way forward on legacy inquests, and indeed all of the outstanding issues in relation to dealing with the legacy of the past, as a matter of urgency."

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