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Legacy issues can't be faced without stable Executive, says Northern Ireland Office

By Noel McAdam

A "stable" Assembly and Executive must be in place to tackle the legacy of the Troubles, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has said.

In response to comments from Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson, the NIO also stressed the Government remained committed to the bodies proposed in the Stormont House Agreement, including an historical investigations unit.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph on Monday, Mrs Thompson also implicitly criticised Secretary of State James Brokenshire over claims that investigations into Troubles-related killings have been disproportionately weighed against security forces personnel.

The commissioner said: "I don't understand where the evidence is here. My understanding is that all of the around 2,000 cases awaiting review by the (proposed) historical inquiries unit are in the same position - they cannot be skewed in a particular direction."

A statement on behalf of Mr Brokenshire's office said the proposed bodies, which also include an independent commission on information retrieval, would "investigate Troubles-related deaths in ways that are fair, balanced and proportionate".

A spokesperson for the NIO added: "It is also important to note that we need stable devolved institutions in place so we can continue to address challenging issues like the legacy of the past.

"The Government remains committed to the establishment of the new bodies proposed in the Stormont House Agreement, including the historical investigations unit.

"We will continue discussions with political parties and victims' groups to try and build sufficient consensus to establish the legacy institutions."

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