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Judge raps State over Troubles inquests

By David Young, PA

Published 26/01/2016

Lord Justice Weir branded some of the “excuses” offered by state agencies for the lack of progress as “preposterous”
Lord Justice Weir branded some of the “excuses” offered by state agencies for the lack of progress as “preposterous”

A senior judge has accused the Government of failing to properly resource a series of long-delayed inquests into almost 100 Troubles deaths in Northern Ireland.

Lord Justice Weir branded some of the "excuses" offered by State agencies for the lack of progress as "preposterous".

The judge is conducting a major review of the stalled inquests on behalf of Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan.

There are 56 cases relating to 95 deaths stuck in Northern Ireland's coroners' system.

Delays in security checking classified police and military papers ahead of disclosure to the Coroner's Court have repeatedly been highlighted as the main obstacle in the way of progress.

During a hearing related to the inquest of loyalist paramilitary shooting victim Terence McDaid, the judge was again told disclosure by the PSNI and Ministry of Defence was being hampered by lack of resources.

Barrister Mark Robinson, representing the MoD and PSNI, insisted work on all 56 cases could not be done simultaneously.

Judge Weir responded: "They could be done simultaneously if they were adequately resourced.

"The only thing stopping them being worked on is an absence of resources and the Government provides the resources.

"These cases are being delayed because the Government is not adequately funding the work."

At Monday's hearing in Belfast Laganside Courts, Judge Weir made clear that the Government, not the Coroners' Service, was obligated under international law to hold human rights-compliant inquests. He said he has yet to find a "reasonable explanation" for the delays - "other than a disinclination to do the work".

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