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See Parliamentary Question & Response below
Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has highlighted how the Stormont House Agreement is not delivering victims’ justice, following Parliamentary Question response from the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
An Teachta Tóibín:
“Victims’ Justice is a political football and something politicians on all sides give much lip service, but fail to deliver. The Stormont House Agreement of 2014 was meant to go some way towards delivering answers and justice and taking justice out of the political arena. In response to my PQ on the implementation of the SHA, the Minister stated that the “Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) to facilitate truth recovery for victims and survivors” could not go forward until the necessary legislation has been implemented. The ICIR would negate my proposal for a truth and reconciliation commission according to the Minister. The issue is however, that that legislation has not yet been implemented. Furthermore, the British government has now proposed significant changes to the SHA at odds with the notion of a collective approach to legacy investigations and justice.”
“How then can we say that the ICIR is fit for purpose when it is still an abstract proposal, as opposed to a concrete commission? It is 6 years since the SHA was agreed, and still the Agreement goes unimplemented. The Minister touts the readiness of the government to work with the British government on pursuing justice, but victims of the Glennane Gang are still awaiting a meeting with the Minister and the Taoiseach despite promises to do so in the Dáil. It is clear that the SHA is not delivering Victims’ Justice. This may be more down to political factors than the agreement itself, but whatever the case, it is not at this time a vehicle for truth and justice. As every years go by, more survivors pass away and the calls for justice lose more voices. Why is it that Victims and Survivors of paramilitary violence and state-sanctioned killings cannot get even breadcrumbs of truth and justice from either the Irish government, the Northern Executive or the British government?”
For Written Answer on : 20/01/2021
Question Number(s): 262 Question Reference(s): 2494/21
Department: Foreign Affairs
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the elements of the Stormont House Agreement that have been implemented; the elements that remain to be implemented; the impediments to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement in its entirety; and if a truth and reconciliation commission was considered for Northern Ireland.
The Stormont House Agreement was reached in 2014 after a period of intense negotiation by the Irish Government, the UK Government and the political parties in Northern Ireland.
It provides for a comprehensive and balanced framework to address the legacy of the past, including an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to take forward outstanding investigations in Troubles-related deaths, an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) to facilitate truth recovery for victims and survivors, an Oral History Archive to record testimony from affected individuals and communities; and the Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG), to provide overall oversight, look at themes and patterns and support reconciliation.
The commitment to the implementation of the provisions of the Stormont House Agreement was reaffirmed in the context of the New Decade, New Approach Agreement in January 2020. As the Deputy will be aware, in March, the UK Government published a Written Ministerial Statement which proposed significant changes to the Stormont House framework. I have engaged with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and others regularly since that time to make clear the serious concerns of the Government in this respect, to set out our position that the Stormont House Agreement is the path forward, and to underline the critical importance of a collective approach to legacy.
With respect to a truth and reconciliation commission, within the framework of the Stormont House Agreement, it is envisioned that the role of the ICIR will be to enable victims and survivors to seek and privately receive information about the Troubles-related deaths of their next of kin.
The ICIR agreement was signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in October 2015 and laid before the Oireachtas in January 2016. The Independent Commission can only be formally established once the necessary legislation has been enacted and the two Governments have notified each other of completion of all other domestic legal procedures required to bring the agreement into force.
The Government remains ready to engage and work with the British Government and the parties to the Northern Ireland Executive in partnership on this very important issue in the period immediately ahead, with a view to reaffirming a collective approach that is consistent with the Stormont House Agreement framework, and for all victims, survivors and society as a whole.