British government must respect court judgement and release legacy funding – O'Neill
Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill has called for the monies requested by the Lord Chief Justice for legacy inquests to be immediately released.
Michelle O’Neill was speaking after a Belfast court ordered the British Secretary of State, the Executive Office and the Department of Justice to reconsider the refusal to provide the funding and to take steps to ensure that legacy inquests take place.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“Legacy inquest funding has been blocked by the DUP and British Government for far too long. Grieving families have been denied truth and justice for too long. The Lord Chief Justice has been snubbed for too long. The onus is on the British government to immediately release the modest funding as determined by the courts.
“Today’s judgement was a damning indictment of the refusal to release legacy funding for inquests, some of which have been delayed about half a century.
“This is a step forward for the families who should not have had to seek legal redress in the first place.
“The British Government and Arlene Foster should have done the right thing a long time ago. Instead, they actively blocked this process. They deliberately prevented grieving families from access to the truth of how their loved ones died.
“But today’s judgment sends a very clear message to anyone in public office that unlawful behaviour and the denial of rights to citizens will not be sanctioned by the courts.
“I hope this acts as a deterrent to those who would still seek to do so.
“The Court also awarded personal liability costs against former First Minister Arlene Foster having previously ruled that she acted unlawfully by blocking the Executive from considering the Lord Chief Justice’s request for the funds.
“The court also ordered the British Secretary of State, the Executive Office and the Department of Justice to now reconsider the refusal to provide the funding and to take steps to ensure that legacy inquests take place.
"In the context, the British Secretary of State should immediately release the funds requested by the Lord Chief Justice.”