Northern Ireland: Amnesty supports Lord Chief Justice’s call on legacy inquests

Amnesty International has welcomed a speech by Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice calling for urgent action by the UK and Northern Ireland governments to ensure major investment to address the backlog in Troubles-related inquests.

Responding to Sir Declan Morgan’s annual address to mark the opening of the new legal year, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“It is extremely disappointing to hear that there has been no progress by Government in agreeing plans from the Lord Chief Justice to deal with the backlog of ‘legacy inquests’ in Northern Ireland.

“In May we called for this to be the number one item on the agenda at the first meeting of the new Northern Ireland Executive.

“Sadly, neither local ministers nor the new secretary of state appear to have treated the issue with the urgency it demands.

“Bereaved family members have already been made to wait for decades for a proper investigation into the deaths of their loved ones. For politicians to continue to deny the prospect of an inquest, after decades of delay and denial of justice, will only add to victims’ sense of betrayal.”

Sir Declan has proposed setting up a legacy inquest unit with its own staff to deal with Troubles-related inquests. He said the remaining legacy inquests in Northern Ireland could be dealt with in five years if he received the necessary funding.

Earlier this year Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster blocked discussion by the Executive of a proposal from the region’s justice minister for a request for funding to be submitted to the UK Government which would have allowed the new inquest unit to be established. 

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