Belfast Telegraph

Troubles documents easier to access

A new process providing easier access to historic court documents on dozens of Troubles killings will help families find closure, the Culture Minister has claimed.

Caral Ni Chuilin, who is responsible the Public Records Office, said individuals would no longer have to rely on Freedom of Information legislation to view the previously unseen papers.

The minister said: "In my view, this new process will help families obtain more information in a timely manner and potentially assist them with finding closure."

Under the new system, families will simply have to email or write to the PRONI (Public Records Office Northern Ireland) outlining which records they require.

However, relatives or their representatives will also be asked to sign an undertaking, agreeing not to publish the information.

The PRONI archive includes documents from dozens of inquests into controversial killings.

Around 9,000 files of court records covering the years 1970 to 1982 are being prepared by PRONI (Public Records Office Northern Ireland) and will be added to the catalogue later this year.

Last year the minister overturned a decision by PRONI not to release court documents to solicitors representing the families of Gabriel Higgins, who was shot dead by the UVF in September 1979, and Francis Toner, who was killed by members of the same paramilitary organisation in May 1982.

The Minister continued: "My Department will continue to consult with the NIO and DoJ as part of this new process, seeking their views on the contents of the inquest and court files before any information is released.

"I will give careful consideration to the information provided by the consultees prior to the release of information."

Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard said the new initiative would simplify the process.

The South Down MLA said: "This will hopefully help families access information that could assist them in their search or truth and justice."

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