Posted By: February 14, 2024




Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

“The  cruel, cynical, calculated policy of further torturing the victims, by delay, after delay—giving new meaning to the dictum ‘ justice delayed is justice denied.’”—Fr. Sean McManus

Troubles legacy act: State bodies “running down the clock”

 BBC NI. Belfast. Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Troubles-related inquests are being delayed by state bodies “running down the clock” until 1 May, a former Northern Ireland secretary has said.

The Legacy and Reconciliation Act states that inquests which have not concluded by that date will close.

A new fact-finding body will then be established and will provide amnesty for those who cooperate with investigations.

Lord Hain said inquests are “deliberately delayed so they lapse”.

The legislation would ban any new prosecutions for Troubles-related crimes and prevent victims’ families from seeking fresh inquests or taking legal challenges.

The UK act, which became law in September, has been widely opposed by victims groups and all the main political parties in Northern Ireland.

Those opposed have argued that the bill will remove access to justice for victims, and the bill faces at least 11 separate legal challenges.

The government has argued that the bill is an attempt to draw a line under the events of the past.


In the House of Lords, former NI secretary Lord Hain asked Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Caine if he was not “extremely perturbed, indeed embarrassed, by the fact that state bodies appear to be openly running down the clock to 1 May when the due process that we set such store by in the United Kingdom will no longer apply in Northern Ireland, thanks to the shameful Legacy Act?”

He added: “Is this not a disgraceful way to treat victims of the Troubles who have suffered so much already?”

Lord Hain accuses state officials of an abject failure “to produce the necessary files in anything like a timely fashion continues despite the relevant state bodies being directed to do so.”

“Vastly inferior”

The legislation will lead to the establishment of an Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

The aim of this new organisation is to help families find out more about the circumstances of how their loved ones were killed or seriously injured.

The former NI secretary challenged Lord Caine on how the new Independent Commission will “fare any better”?

Chris Heaton-Harris, the current NI secretary, had said that the new independent commission offers “a real opportunity to deliver greater information, accountability and acknowledgment to victims and families.”

However, Lord Hain described the processes due to be in place under the Legacy Act as a “vastly inferior process, done on the cheap”.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan agreed with comments made by Lord Hain and added: “What is happening in Northern Ireland is outrageous at the moment and causes huge distress to victims.”

The comments from peers came as the upper chamber debated changes to the Windsor Framework that emerged as a result of the deal between the government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly and devolved government in Stormont.