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Legislative Programme

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 19 January 2022

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Questions (1186)

Patrick Costello

Question:

1186. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the progress of the preparation of the heads of the independent commission on information retrieval Bill as included in the 2021 autumn legislative programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [63015/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Stormont House Agreement, concluded by the two Governments and the Northern Ireland Parties in December 2014, provides for a framework of measures to address the legacy of troubles-related violence in Northern Ireland. 

The framework of measures agreed include the establishment of the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). The ICIR is to be an independent international body with the objective of enabling families to seek and privately receive information about the troubles-related deaths of their next of kin.  

Given the cross-border nature of the ICIR, in September 2015, the Government signed an International Agreement with the British Government on the establishment of the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR).  The development of proposals for legislation to establish the ICIR in this jurisdiction have been progressed, in close cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs,  and Heads of Bill well advanced. However, ICIR will require legislation to be enacted in both jurisdictions with parallel provisions in order for it to come into effect, which is presenting a particular difficulty at the current time. 

As the Deputy will appreciate, efforts to advance the Stormont House Agreement legacy provisions have unfortunately been affected by the UK Government’s recent command paper on legacy published in July which represents a radical departure from the Stormont House Agreement. 

This Government remains committed to the Stormont House framework as the way forward on legacy issues, and where the British Government are proposing significant changes to the framework, we have made clear that these must be discussed and agreed by both Governments and the parties to the Northern Ireland Executive. Only through a collective approach can we hope to deal with these issues comprehensively and fairly, and in a way that listens and responds to the needs of victims and survivors, and society as a whole.

As agreed at the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 24 June, the Government joined the British Government and the political parties in Northern Ireland in a process of engagement on these issues.

The Government will continue to engage and work with the British Government and the parties represented on the Northern Ireland Executive on this very important issue. 

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