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Inquests into atrocities must go on, says top judge

Northern Ireland's most senior judge has called on Government to ensure that inquests are held into atrocities during the Troubles.

There is currently a back log of 56 legacy inquests involving 98 deaths.

Sir Declan Morgan says the state has a "legal obligation" to ensure these inquests are heard, and a failure to do so could frustrate the rule of law.

There was controversy earlier this year, when Stormont funding was not released for a plan to ensure these inquests are heard within five years.

Sir Declan said he was disappointed. "I hoped that it would receive a sympathetic hearing, I was disappointed that there was no immediate response," he told the BBC.

"I hoped that in due course, that the parties would be able to find a way forward, both those here within Northern Ireland and the secretary of state's office, but unfortunately so far that hasn't occurred.

"If the various agencies who are involved in examining this from a political point of view cannot reach an agreement, then the danger is that the political process will end up frustrating the rule of law.

"The parties, it seems to me, who are involved in these discussions need to take into account that there is a need for reasonable expedition, so it is up to them, it seems to me, to address this matter urgently so as to ensure that they comply with the legal obligations that all of us face in this area. This is not just a matter of policy, there is actually a legal obligation in relation to the legacy inquests."

Belfast Telegraph