Dealing with long-outstanding issues relating to the legacy of the Troubles are of the utmost importance to the Government. This includes the holding of coroners' inquests in a manner consistent with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In February 2016, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland put forward proposals to process outstanding legacy inquests relating to the Troubles. The Government has been strongly supportive of the LCJ’s proposals as a way of ensuring that those families who are still waiting for legacy inquests are not left to wait any longer.
I have consistently emphasised in discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the political parties the need to ensure that legacy inquests are properly resourced and I continue to raise this issue with the Secretary of State. I have urged all with those with responsibilities in relation to legacy inquests to move forward as quickly as possible to implement the helpful proposals of the Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland. The Government is continuing to seek urgent progress on this matter.
In this jurisdiction, the Government is taking legislative steps to facilitate further cooperation of Irish authorities with coroners' inquests in Northern Ireland through the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Bill 2017. This Bill is being taken forward by the Department of Justice and Equality in consultation with my Department.
The Bill will also provide for co-operation of the Irish authorities with the Historical Investigations Unit, which is to be established as part of the Stormont House legacy framework. This legislation demonstrates the Government’s commitment to addressing the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland through the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. In this context, I welcome the launch on 11 May of the UK Government’s consultation on addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.