Victims' Commissioner calls on British and Irish governments to 'deliver a co-ordinated approach' on legacy
THE British and Irish governments must work together to "deliver a co-ordinated approach" in introducing legislation to deal with legacy issues, the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors has said.
Judith Thompson said more than half a billion pounds has been spent over the last two decades in attempts to address Troubles-related matters - but with no concrete results.
She said while the proposed legislation "will not please everyone", it has "taken years to reach a point where every political party has agreed to a way forward and we cannot lose this opportunity".
A public consultation on proposals ended in October last year but there has been no legislation introduced to date and plans have been stalled amidst the ongoing political impasse at Stormont.
Mrs Thompson acknowledged there are difficulties with the plans in their current form.
"Implementing institutions that on the one hand deal with a criminal justice investigation and on the other offers a protected process of information sharing that may give closure to thousands of grieving families will be challenging to run in tandem and the proposed mechanisms need to be re-worked to address that," she said.
"Equally we need realistic levels of funding and timelines for co-ordination and delivery of the proposed Historical Investigations Unit, Independent Commission for Information Retrieval, Oral History Archive and Implementation and Reconciliation Group.
"It is widely acknowledged that the £150m across five years just won't cut it."
While welcoming the release of £55m to fund more than 50 legacy inquests, the commissioner said there are also "a number of other matters agreed in principle in the Stormont House Agreement that need to be progressed".
Mrs Thompson said issues including pensions for those "severely physically and psychologically injured", increased funding for specialised mental health services and greater levels of support for victims outside Northern Ireland needed to be addressed.