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Committee to assess UK Government’s Northern Ireland legacy proposals

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The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has today launched an Inquiry to examine the UK Government’s proposals to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

On 18 March, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, right hon. Brandon Lewis MP, outlined the Government’s new approach to the addressing the legacy of the past in a written statement to the House of Commons. This statement proposed:

– the formation of a single independent body to oversee information retrieval and investigation;
– a shift in focus to information retrieval as the core service for individuals and families;
– full police investigations in cases with a “realistic prospect” of prosecution due to “new compelling” evidence; and
– the closure of all other cases with a bar on future re-investigation.

The inquiry will examine the extent to which the UK Government’s proposals meet the needs of victims, survivors and their families..

Chair’s comments

Simon Hoare, Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to introduce new legislation to tackle legacy issues in Northern Ireland. However, these proposals differ from those in the Stormont House Agreement, which is why they require scrutiny. A better system, and new institutions, are needed to tackle the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It is essential that the Government gets this right not only for individuals and families affected, who want to know what happened to their loved ones, but to support reconciliation in Northern Ireland for future generations, too. The Inquiry will provide a forum for people to share their views, and the Committee will do all in its power to help ensure that forthcoming legislation is balanced, fair and appropriate to the circumstances in Northern Ireland.”

Terms of reference:

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee would welcome the submission of written evidence on the UK Government’s proposals to tackle legacy issues in Northern Ireland that addresses:

– Whether the Government’s proposed approach will meet the needs of victims, survivors and their families;
– What steps the Government can take to ensure that the proposed new legacy body is independent, balanced and open, and complies with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and ECHR commitments;
– The differences between the Government’s new proposals and the draft Stormont House Agreement Bill;
– Whether and how the Government’s proposals will promote reconciliation in Northern Ireland;
– The potential merits of consolidating the bodies envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement into a single organisation;
– The equity of the Government’s proposed approach to the re-investigation of cases;
– What legislative steps the Government can take to address what have been described as vexatious claims against veterans

Written evidence submissions can be made here until 1 June 2020.

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