Belfast Telegraph

Vacuum 'puts onus on MPs to deal with legacy issue'

By Staff Reporter

The ongoing absence of a Stormont Executive could mean that Westminster will be left to deal with the legacy of the Troubles, Northern Ireland's Victims' Commissioner has said.

Judith Thompson yesterday added her voice to the increasing public concern about the effect that the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland was having on ordinary people.

There has been no Executive in place for nine months, and political talks between the local parties have shown little sign of bearing fruit.

As the Northern Ireland Office prepares to begin a formal consultation on legacy issues, Ms Thompson said that the continued lack of an Executive here could mean the UK Government taking the lead.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics programme, Ms Thompson said that victims of the conflict have been waiting too long for legacy issues to be addressed.

Ms Thompson recognised that some aspects of the legacy issues are for Westminster to address, but felt that the absence of a functioning devolved administration would further delay matters that lay within the remit of Stormont.

"Some of the legislation is Westminster legislation and always would have been, so that can run and whilst it's best to do it in the presence of a functioning Executive, it can happen anyway," the Victims Commissioner said.

"But there are other parts to it, for example the pension for the severely injured, which is a devolved matter.

"In the kind of vacuum we have at Stormont it means that what should be parallel legislation passing through at the same time, is encountering a delay.

"Our view is those devolved matters need to be referenced in the consultation, the timetable needs to be there."

But if the present political impasse was to continue, the Commissioner made it clear that London could and should step in to fill that vacuum.

"If we don't have a resolution at Stormont soon then those matters need to be dealt with at Westminster," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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