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 the conflict in Northern Ireland.
In July 2019, the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act 2019 was enacted. The legislation is an important step in the Government’s commitment to the agreed measures to address the legacy of the troubles on the island of Ireland and to support the victims of the conflict and their families. In addition to enhancing the co-operation being provided to ongoing Coroners’ Inquests in Northern Ireland into historical deaths, the legislation further underpins the Government’s commitment to full co-operation with the framework of measures set out in the Stormont House Agreement.
Also, 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 ICIR will be a cross-border institution which will be established to receive information on troubles-related deaths and to prepare a report on the circumstances of the death for the families of the victims. The development of proposals for legislation to establish the ICIR in this jurisdiction is being progressed, but the 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 been affected by the political stalemate in Northern Ireland which lasted until January of last year and by the UK Government’s recent command paper on legacy published in July which represents a radical departure from the Stormont House Agreement.
Nevertheless, 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 responds to the needs of victims and survivors, and society as a whole.
Following a meeting of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 24 June, it was agreed to begin an intensive process of engagement with the British Government and the Northern Ireland parties to find an agreed way forward on legacy. 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.