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Resolve legacy issues, Dublin minister Charlie Flanagan urges

By Noel McAdam

Published 05/01/2016

Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan
Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan

Stormont's parties must find a solution to dealing with the legacy from the Troubles, an Irish Government minister has warned.

In an article in the Belfast Telegraph, Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan insisted: "We cannot risk the toxins of the past poisoning the politics of the present."

Mr Flanagan, who alongside Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, reached the Fresh Start deal with the DUP and Sinn Fein, said a resolution of the so-called legacy issues was "imperative.

"We must not lose sight of what, regrettably, was not achieved last year, namely, the establishment of the legacy institutions envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement," he said.

The now year-old agreement envisaged draft legislation aimed at shaping the new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) and Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR).

But the most recent talks ended with an impasse over dealing with the past with Sinn Fein and the London Government in particular caught up in a stalemate over disclosure of potentially security sensitive information.

Mr Flanagan's comments come after Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson said there was "cautious optimism" among the parties that progress can be made on the issue.

But she warned that thousands of people suffering from Troubles-linked mental illness were being left in limbo because investment in a trauma centre had been put on hold.

Mrs Thompson also revealed a proposal for a pension for the most severely injured victims of the Troubles had become "mired in party politics".

Writing today, Mr Flanagan said: "I am determined that agreement will be reached on these outstanding sensitive issues but it will take commitment, courage and flexibility from the Governments, the political parties and civil society if we are to find a way through this apparent zero-sum impasse.

"Nevertheless, it is imperative that a solution be found. We owe it to the victims and survivors, and we owe it to ourselves since we cannot risk the toxins of the past poisoning the politics of the present.

"So, taking heart from what has been achieved on the journey over the last 30 years, let us resolve in the centenary of the Easter Rising and the Somme to agree a way of dealing with the past so that it contributes to peace and reconciliation on the island we all share and all cherish."

Another milestone reached in difficult road to stability, Pages 22-23

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