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Progress on Troubles inquests 'remains elusive', says human rights chief

Progress in investigating Troubles-related deaths in Northern Ireland remains elusive, the Human Rights Commission said.

The watchdog published its annual statement on human rights this year and lauded progress in publishing a racial equality strategy and the commitment to modernise adoption law.

But it said resolution of issues such as those surrounding the termination of pregnancies and civil marriage for same sex couples were better resolved by the Assembly than the courts.

Chief commissioner Les Allamby said finding agreement to introduce legislation to create the institutions in the Stormont House Agreement remained out of reach.

He said: "The lack of progress in completing investigations into Troubles-related deaths also remains elusive.

"There is a window of opportunity for dealing with outstanding legacy inquests. This requires the requisite financial resources to be made available for them to move forward with some pace."

He said allowing some gay men to give blood, mirroring arrangements elsewhere in the UK, and the commitment to modernise adoption law were issues that eventually moved forward following legal action.

Others resolved elsewhere in the UK have reached a political impasse. "As a consequence, the courts have been asked to adjudicate on access to terminations of pregnancies in special circumstances and also civil marriage for same sex couples.

"A resolution of these issues would be better served through the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"Despite the progress documented in the annual statement, there remains considerable work still to be done."

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