Government to intensify engagement with Troubles victims

It said the current system for releasing information about the past is not working.

Government to intensify engagement with Troubles victims

The Government has pledged to “intensify” engagement with victims’ groups in addressing the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict.

The system for releasing Troubles-related information is not working and the “divisive” cycle of reinvestigations and civil action is failing to obtain answers for most families, ministers said.

They want to see renewed focus on information recovery as the prospect of securing convictions dwindles.

“Despite the real challenges this brings, the Government remains determined to make progress on legacy issues, and has always been clear that it will engage with the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland parties, and civic society, including victims’ groups, as part of this process.

“The Government remains equally committed to working collaboratively with the Committee and, as we intensify engagement with key stakeholders going into the new year.”

Ministers were responding to a Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report on the matter at Westminster.

The Andrew Marr Show
Brandon Lewis announced in March that only Troubles killings with ‘compelling’ new evidence and a realistic prospect of court proceedings would receive a full reinvestigation (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Government said that, after a review, most unsolved cases would be closed and a new law would prevent those investigations from being reopened.

Monday’s response added: “The Government believes it is right to focus on information recovery and providing answers to those with questions about what happened to their loved ones.

“With the passage of time it becomes increasingly challenging for investigations to satisfy the evidential thresholds necessary for prosecution.”

Operation Kenova investigated the activities of the Army’s top mole in Northern Ireland, codenamed Stakeknife.

Other files related to that inquiry and submitted to prosecutors are still under consideration.

Ministers said: “The Government has always been clear we want to see information recovery at the heart of any new legacy system.

“It is clear that the current system for releasing Troubles-related information is not working, and the divisive cycle of reinvestigations and civil action as a primary route for truth recovery is failing to obtain answers for a majority of victims and families.”

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