Posted By: December 20, 2023




Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus


“The Irish National Caucus commends the Irish Government for taking an inter-state case against the British Government regarding the NI Legacy Act.”

—Fr. Sean McManus


Government takes inter-state case against UK over NI Legacy Bill

RTE. Dublin.  Wednesday, December 20, 2023.

The [Irish] Government has decided to initiate an inter-state case against the UK under the European Convention of Human Rights, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has confirmed.

In a statement, Mr. Martin said that the decision was taken after much thought and careful consideration, adding, “I regret that we find ourselves in a position where such a choice had to be made”.

In its application, the Government will argue that the provisions of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 are incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the convention.

Mr. Martin said the “decision by the British government not to proceed with the 2014 Stormont House Agreement and instead pursue legislation unilaterally, without effective engagement with the legitimate concerns that we, and many others, raised left us with few options.

“The British government removed the political option and has left us only this legal avenue.”

The Tánaiste added: “The incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into Northern Ireland law is a specific and fundamental requirement of the Good Friday Agreement. Since the UK legislation was first tabled, the Government have been consistent that it is not compatible with the Convention.

“I used every opportunity to make my concerns known and urged the British government to pause this legislation.”

Mr. Martin said that “serious reservations” about the bill have been raised by a number of international observers, including the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He said the legislation is also opposed by people in Northern Ireland, especially the victims and families who will be most impacted by it.

Mr. Martin said the Government has particular concerns around provisions “which allow for the granting of immunity, and which shut down existing avenues to truth and justice for historic cases, including inquests, police investigations, Police Ombudsman investigations, and civil actions.”

He said that “even in cases in which immunity is not granted, ‘reviews’ by the proposed body, the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) are not an adequate substitute for police investigations, carried out independently, adequately, and with sufficient participation of next of kin.”

The Tánaiste said the British government enacted the legislation on 18 September “shutting off any possibility of political resolution.”

He added: “We now find ourselves in a space where our only recourse is to pursue a legal path.

“It is important to leave the next steps to the court.”