Leading article

There must be no further delay in addressing legacy of our troubled past

The failure to address the legacy of decades of violence remains a massive source of dismay and anger for the families who lost loved ones during this bloody period.

It now seems the patience of the Irish government over these unresolved issues is also wearing thin with a strongly worded statement this week being seen as a significant development.

The coalition government said it was `deeply disappointed' and `frustrated' at the British government's failure to establish the legacy institutions agreed in the Stormont House Agreement two years ago.

Normally, exchanges between the governments are couched in diplomatic language so this is an unusual and pointed public attack by the Irish government on the British administration.

What is particularly disconcerting is that the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, has proposed an effective way of dealing with around 50 legacy cases which have been stalled in the coronial system for many years.

Some of the cases still waiting for an inquest to be heard date back 45 years.

Yet the £10 million cost of funding this process - relatively modest in comparison to the staggering sums squandered on the renewable heating fiasco - cannot move forward without the consent of our political leaders.

The DUP has refused to sign off on providing the money for outstanding inquests until consensus is reached on all aspects of the package of measures to deal with wider legacy issues.

Brendan McGuigan, chief inspector with Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, praised the Lord Chief Justice's initiative as a `once-in-a-generational opportunity' to move matters on.

In a report this week, Mr McGuigan was also critical of the PSNI's approach to Troubles-related inquests saying processes around disclosing sensitive material had become `complex, convoluted and risk averse.'

He recommended that these procedures are immediately reviewed, something that many families would believe is long overdue.

We are now moving into 2017. We cannot allow another year to pass without the legacy of our troubled past being finally and fully addressed.

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Leading article