NI: Troubles inquests could be completed within five years

NI: Troubles inquests could be completed within five years

Inquests into 56 legacy cases relating to the Troubles could begin in September and be completed within five years, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland has said.

The two-week review of cases relating to the killing of 97 people during the Troubles has found that all can proceed to inquest.

Sir Declan Morgan said: “If we are given the necessary resources and we obtain the full co-operation of the relevant statutory agencies, I am confident that it should be possible to hear all of the remaining legacy cases within about five years.”

He has called for the establishment of a new legacy inquest unit with the resources to carry out the inquests.

Sir Declan explained: “It is clear that the existing Coroners Service is not adequately resourced to carry the weight of these cases and so we will need to establish a new, dedicated legacy inquest unit as a matter of urgency.”

Justice Minister David Ford welcomed Sir Declan’s statement and added: “I am committed to doing all I can to ensure that victims, survivors and families get access to the information, justice and services they deserve.

“My officials are working with the office of the Lord Chief Justice to agree the structure, resources and operational arrangements for a new legacy inquest unit based on the Lord Chief Justice’s developing thinking.”

The Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Judith Thompson, said: “On behalf of Victims I welcome the proposal today from the Lord Chief Justice that given adequate resources he can hear the remaining legacy cases with the next five years.

“Having consulted with Victims and Survivor groups throughout Northern Ireland in the last month, it is also clear that balance has to be achieved in the disclosure of information from all parties involved. Ultimately victims understand that the truth will be uncomfortable for everyone, but that should not stand in the way of an acknowledgement of what happened in the past.

“Both the State and those representing previous combatants in the conflict, need to co-operate with Victims and the institutions set up to support Victims in providing real and credible answers to questions around the fate of those who have lost their lives as a result of the Troubles.”

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