Britain “will give HIU files on Troubles”

Posted By: December 09, 2016

Michael McHugh. Irish News (Belfast). Friday, December 9, 2016

THE British government has said it is prepared to disclose all relevant material about the Troubles to an independent Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

The HIU is among a suite of organizations planned to investigate the bloody legacy of the conflict once a row over the state’s national security ‘veto’ is resolved.

The families of more than 3,200 murder victims believe national security concerns could be used to prevent the release of information held in official files.

The Irish government has said those harmed during the Troubles have been let down by the lack of progress.

A British government statement read: “This government is committed to the full and faithful implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, including the establishment of the new institutions to address the legacy of the past.”

It said the administration will continue to engage with victims’ groups, political parties and the Executive to build the necessary political consensus to get the institutions agreed in the Stormont House accord up and running.

“However, success or failure does not rest on the UK government alone,” the statement read.

“It will not hinge on a national security ‘veto’ which is a simplistic characterisation failing to recognize that the UK government has agreed to disclose all relevant material it holds to the HIU.”

Institutions agreed after political talks included the HIU, an independent body tasked with investigating large numbers of outstanding criminal cases connected to the Troubles and stretching back decades.

The Irish government has said it “deeply regretted” the lack of visible progress on establishing institutions to deal with the conflict.

The British government has differences with nationalists over how to balance the need of families to find new information about how their loved ones died and the hopes of some for prosecutions with the official responsibility to protect national security and prevent further loss of life.

Funding to support dozens of inquests into past killings has been withheld amid Stormont divisions, principally between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

The British government said: “Of course, the executive and Northern Ireland’s political parties must play their part too.

“Detailed work continues to establish new bodies that command support and confidence, as we seek to build a Northern Ireland that works for everyone.”