Political news

Troubles victims press for go-ahead of stalled moves to tackle legacy

James Brokenshire has proposed a public consultation exercise to help make progress on legacy issues
David Young, Press Association

Victims of the Troubles have called on the British government to push ahead with stalled new mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the past.

They urged Secretary of State James Brokenshire to start a long-awaited public consultation process as a "matter of urgency".

An independent investigations unit, a truth recovery body and an oral history archive were among initiatives agreed by political leaders in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

But subsequent political rows mean the mechanisms have still not been set up three years later.

Another political deal - the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement - failed to break the deadlock over thorny issues such as the Government's national security veto on sensitive files.

Mr Brokenshire has proposed a public consultation exercise as a means to progress the mechanisms a little nearer to implementation.

Victims commissioner Judith Thompson and members of the Victims and Survivors Forum - a body representing a wide cross-section of people impacted by the Troubles - met with Mr Brokenshire on Monday morning to demand that the public is consulted as soon as possible.

Ms Thompson said there was a need for "victim-centred approach" that was "balanced, fair and inclusive".

"It is almost two years to the month since the Fresh Start Agreement abandoned victims and survivors, and it is with real sadness that we find ourselves once again in a political stalemate.

"In advocating for a legislative consultation, the Commission and the Forum are very conscious that there will be challenges."

A statement on behalf of the forum members said: "Victims are often told that a line needs to be drawn under conflict-related matters - we agree.

"However, we consider that this line can only be drawn by addressing all of the issues and learning the lessons drawn to avoid recreating the conditions which may lead to a recurrence of conflict in the future.

"The Stormont House Agreement offered proposals to deal with the past that were carefully thought out but not implemented including the Historical Investigations Unit, Independent Commission for Information Retrieval, an Oral History Archive and the Implementation and Reconciliation Group.

"In addition, other measures that are devolved should be progressed in parallel including a pension for the severely injured, an effective mental trauma service and inquests for those families that have been waiting too long".

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