Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (151)

Brendan Smith


151. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the need to deal with legacy issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31241/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I have engaged extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and with the leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland to seek the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement legacy framework.

At the meetings of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and in our bilateral meetings, I have strongly emphasised to the Secretary of State the urgency of definitively moving ahead to a legislative phase to get the Stormont House bodies established. 

The Government welcomed the publication of the summary of responses to the UK Government consultation on addressing the legacy of the Troubles through the framework provided for under the Stormont House Agreement

The main message from the vast majority of the 17,000 people and organisations who responded is that the current system needs to be reformed and that legacy issues need to be dealt with in a way that contributes to reconciliation and a better future.

Importantly also, there was broad support for doing this by implementing the Stormont House Agreement legacy framework.

The Stormont House Agreement provides for a comprehensive set of institutions to deal with legacy issues, in a way that can meet the legitimate needs of victims and survivors and support closure and reconciliation for those communities most affected by the Troubles.

The Government remains firmly committed to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, as does the UK Government.

It is essential that there is now a concrete step forward by the UK Government to get this legacy framework that was agreed in 2014 established in legislation, and up and running for victims and survivors, without any further delay.

The necessary implementing legislation is also being advanced in this jurisdiction.

On 28 June, the Minister for Justice and Equality announced the publication of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Bill 2019, following approval by the Government. 

This legislation will enhance the co-operation that is being provided to ongoing Coroners’ Inquests in Northern Ireland into troubles-related deaths. It will also further underpin the Government’s commitment to full co-operation with the framework of institutions set out in the Stormont House Agreement.

The Government will continue to work to support the full and prompt implementation of the Stormont House legacy framework, to provide families with a way to access whatever truth and justice that is possible in their cases, and as a very necessary step in achieving a fully reconciled society.