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Seán Crowe TD challenges Brokenshire on Legacy Issues

28 November, 2016 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has challenged the British Government's Secretary for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire on his assertion that inquiries into legacy issues arising from the conflict in north should be time-limited because current inquiries are too slow, cumbersome,not delivering,not balanced and one sided.

Mr Brokenshire made his comments at a sitting of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly taking place in Cardiff today.

Deputy Crowe, who is Chair of the All Party Oireactas Committe on Victims, and who was in attendance, said;

"I agree with British Secretary Brokenshire's remarks that inquiries into legacy issues arising out of the conflict in the north are not delivering for victims or their families, and that they are both slow and  cumbersome.

“ I am in no doubt that many of the victims' families, including those of the Dublin and Monaghan bomb victims, who have been looking for decades for British files to be released would agree with these words.

"Unfortunately, the figleaf of security consideration is all prevailing when it comes to the British government's approach to dealing with the past and when it comes to victims and their families

“The blocking of the processes involved, through the use of a 'national security' veto, is central to this problem. It is a handy, ready-made and deliberately false justification for criticising, and undermining, the value of such inquiries.

"James Brokenshire should uphold his obligations by addressing the requirements of the North's Lord Chief Justice's five-year plan to clear the backlog in legacy inquests.

"The slow and cumbersome nature of the inquiries, as well as the failure to produce satisfactory results, is due to British political manoeuvring rather than any procedural deficiencies. The British government and Mr Brokenshire must accept responsibility for this matter and work on improving their engagement with the inquiries.

Deputy Crowe also questioned Mr Brokenshire's specific call for "time limited" inquiries and queried his remarks in relation to a lack of balance when it comes to inquiries. He said;

“Mr Brokenshire was critical in his speech today and called for more balance in the electing of legacy cases to be investigated and suggested that the British state were involved in a minority of killings during the conflict. Aside from disagreeing with his narrative, what message he is  sending  to victims and their  families today? Is he trying to say that victims of State violence should step aside and drop their cases or  that their pain and their cases are somehow less relevent?

"It is extremely worrying that the British  Secretary is suggesting that inquiries, established to uncover the truth and aid in the cementing of peace in Ireland, should be limited in their duration. The obvious and immediate criticism is that such a stipulation would open the door to further whitewashed inquiries by way of simply waiting it out.

"I don't believe that such a development would advance the purpose of historical inquiries, which is to provide victims, relatives and communities with some closure by unearthing the truth and by bringing those responsible to justice.”

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