Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (262)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

262. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the elements of the Stormont House Agreement that have been implemented; the elements that remain to be implemented; the impediments to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement in its entirety; and if a truth and reconciliation commission was considered for Northern Ireland. [2494/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Stormont House Agreement was reached in 2014 after a period of intense negotiation by the Irish Government, the UK Government and the political parties in Northern Ireland.

It provides for a comprehensive and balanced framework to address the legacy of the past, including an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to take forward outstanding investigations in Troubles-related deaths, an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) to facilitate truth recovery for victims and survivors, an Oral History Archive to record testimony from affected individuals and communities; and the Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG), to provide overall oversight, look at themes and patterns and support reconciliation.

The commitment to the implementation of the provisions of the Stormont House Agreement was reaffirmed in the context of the New Decade, New Approach Agreement in January 2020. As the Deputy will be aware, in March, the UK Government published a Written Ministerial Statement which proposed significant changes to the Stormont House framework. I have engaged with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and others regularly since that time to make clear the serious concerns of the Government in this respect, to set out our position that the Stormont House Agreement is the path forward, and to underline the critical importance of a collective approach to legacy.

With respect to a truth and reconciliation commission, within the framework of the Stormont House Agreement, it is envisioned that the role of the ICIR will be to enable victims and survivors to seek and privately receive information about the Troubles-related deaths of their next of kin.

The ICIR agreement was signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in October 2015 and laid before the Oireachtas in January 2016. The Independent Commission can only be formally established once the necessary legislation has been enacted and the two Governments have notified each other of completion of all other domestic legal procedures required to bring the agreement into force.

The Government remains ready to engage and work with the British Government and the parties to the Northern Ireland Executive in partnership on this very important issue in the period immediately ahead, with a view to reaffirming a collective approach that is consistent with the Stormont House Agreement framework, and for all victims, survivors and society as a whole.