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Victims told to expect yet more legacy case delays

By Noel McAdam

Published 08/10/2016

Justice Minister Claire Sugden
Justice Minister Claire Sugden

The Justice Minister has warned victims' groups the Government is set to let them down yet again.

Claire Sugden said she was worried long-delayed inquests would not get under way in a "reasonable period of time" and added that her department had not been given the funding to carry out the investigations.

In a written reply to an Assembly question by Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, Ms Sugden explained: "My concern is, in the absence of funding, it will not be possible to complete the investigations in a reasonable period of a time and we will fail the families of victims."

The Justice Minister said she had a number of meetings with Secretary of State James Brokenshire at which the lack of funding was discussed.

"My department has never been resourced to deal with the legacy of the past," she added. "Having met a number of victims' families, I am conscious of the impact of further delay."

Mr Lunn said meetings he had with the Justice Minister and the Secretary of State had been inconclusive. "Legacy cases cannot be allowed to continue without resolution," he added.

"The Justice Minister suggested her relationship with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister would help resolve outstanding cases. That has sadly not been the case, and the minister must give answers."

Under the Stormont House Agreement, now almost two years old, Westminster agreed to provide £150m for legacy issues if mechanisms for dealing with the past could be agreed. But in the Fresh Start deal, there were no indication that such mechanisms had been agreed.

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