Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire in big push for progress on legacy issues

By David Young

The ongoing failure to address legacy issues in Northern Ireland will be high on the agenda as political leaders meet in Belfast today.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will hold talks with Secretary of State James Brokenshire and Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan at Stormont House.

Justice Minister Claire Sugden will also take part in the quarterly review meeting to assess the implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements.

Proposed mechanisms to address the needs of victims and an accompanying multimillion-pound Government funding package are stuck in the starting blocks owing to a wrangle linked to the potential non-disclosure of UK state papers on national security grounds.

The package agreed by Stormont leaders and the UK and Irish Governments, which includes a new investigations unit, a truth recovery mechanism, an oral history archive and enhanced funding for Troubles-related inquests, will not become reality until the logjam is cleared. The national security dispute is primarily between the UK Government and Sinn Fein. However, the DUP is refusing to sign off on the funding boost for legacy inquests until all the other issues are sorted.

Ahead of today's review meeting, Mr Brokenshire said: "These quarterly meetings are an important mechanism to drive forward close working towards implementing the Fresh Start and Stormont House Agreements. The UK Government remains committed to full and faithful implementation of both agreements, including the establishment of the new institutions to address the legacy of the past.

"We are working closely with the Executive and the Irish Government on outstanding commitments.

"Delivering these is essential for building a brighter, more secure future for Northern Ireland - where politics works, the economy is strong and society is more united, freed from the malign impact of paramilitary activity and associated criminality."

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