Starmer urged to repeal Troubles Act as quickly as possible

Starmer urged to repeal Troubles Act as quickly as possible

Human rights campaigners have urged Sir Keir Starmer to repeal the previous UK government’s controversial legacy law as soon as possible.

Labour’s manifesto included a commitment to “repeal and replace” the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023, which is currently the subject of a rare inter-state case brought by Ireland against the UK in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The Act ended most legal proceedings linked to legacy cases, instead establishing an Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) headed by former lord chief justice Sir Declan Morgan.

The previous Conservative government said its investigations into Troubles-related cases would be more “robust and effective”.

ICRIR was originally intended to have the controversial power to offer immunity in some circumstances to those who co-operate with it, though this part of the Act was disapplied following a ruling by Northern Ireland’s High Court in February.

Sir Keir held talks with political leaders in Northern Ireland yesterday as part of a UK tour, and is expected to welcome Taoiseach Simon Harris to Downing Street next Wednesday 17 July.

Amnesty International wants to see rapid action to reinstate judicial processes such as inquests and restore the Stormont House Agreement.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland deputy director, said: “The Good Friday Agreement was under constant attack from the last government which introduced multiple pieces of legislation which threatened it.

“We strongly welcome the prime minister’s vocal commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, and to getting rid of the widely-opposed Troubles Act. That must happen urgently.

“Our work will continue to ensure the Act is repealed and replaced as a high legislative priority and that new truth and justice processes centre victims’ voices and rights.

“There’s an opportunity now for this government to pursue a rights-respecting agenda, and that reset is urgently needed, not only in Northern Ireland, but across the UK.”

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