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Ford says talks collapse should not prevent justice for victims

February 21, 2018 4:22 PM

David Ford MLA PenAlliance MLA David Ford has said last week's collapse of the talks process should not prevent justice for victims of legacy cases.

The former Justice Minister said yesterday's statement by the Secretary of State, in which she committed to supporting the reform of legacy inquests, once again highlighted the issue. Mr Ford said she could release additional funding immediately, as he had attempted to do so in his previous role, adding Karen Bradley should also push ahead with a Government consultation without a controversial proposed statute of limitations for soldiers accused of unlawful killings during the Troubles.

"According to leaks from the talks, the DUP and Sinn Féin agreed to expedite legacy inquests, but thanks to last week's collapse, that will likely not happen now and bereaved victims will continue to suffer from the delay in holding inquests. There is no justification for that," said Mr Ford.

"While Minister of Justice, I carried out work with the Lord Chief Justice to advance legacy inquests by giving additional funding for inquests and the justice agencies with responsibility for supporting inquests. However, my request for the then Executive to access Treasury funding was never tabled for Executive consideration, as the former First Minister was opposed to it.

"I welcome Karen Bradley's commitment yesterday but she can release additional funding now, on the basis of the Department of Justice case from two years ago. Similarly, there is no reason to delay the consultation on the legacy institutions, which were agreed at Stormont House. There is, however, a need to remove any proposed question on a statute of limitations.

"A quick decision by the Secretary of State would provide some measure of comfort to victims who must not be forced to wait any longer for political agreement before they are given justice."