Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's top judge hits out at delays on legacy cases

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Northern Ireland's most senior judge has hit out at the slow pace legacy cases involving some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles have been dealt with.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan addressed the issue in a speech to mark the start of the new legal year.

Sir Declan noted it has been a year "in which there has been political and financial uncertainty" and that security "remained a concern".

Reflecting on the slow progress on legacy issues, Sir Declan said that a "lack of resources" had constrained the Courts and Tribunals Service from making progress on a backlog of cases.

"I have already made clear my disappointment at the lack of progress on dealing with all aspects of the past," he said.

"It remains a source of deep frustration to me that I have still not received a response to the proposals I put forward over eighteen months ago for dealing with the matters for which I have been given responsibility."

Sir Declan requested that the Stormont Executive approve funding for his five-year plan to deal with legacy issues in February 2016.

Some of the legacy cases referred to happened up to 45 years ago.

When Sir Declan took up the Presidency of the Coroners' Court in November 2015 it was dealing with 55 legacy cases involving 96 deaths.

Since then two further legacy cases have been referred, four cases have been completed and findings are awaited in a further three cases.

The Lord Chief Justice added that in 2018 it was anticipated that just one further case would be heard.

"I am very conscious of the fact that each month that passes pushes back by another month the timescale within which all of the outstanding cases will be completed," he added.

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