1. ITV Report

Victims Commissioner: Time running out to tackle legacy

Credit: Presseye

The window of opportunity to pass laws addressing the legacy of the Troubles is closing next year, warns Northern Ireland's Victims Commissioner.

Westminster legislation is needed to give force to commitments contained in 2014's Stormont House Agreement, including the creation of an independent investigation unit and an oral history archive.

Judith Thompson has urged the Secretary of State to act now to launch a consultation that would pave the way for legislation in 2018.

She said next year will be a very busy one for Parliament with Brexit legislation and inaction would risk missing deadlines for parliamentary time.

"Victims and survivors cannot wait any longer," she said, adding "The consequence for victims and survivors of further delay could mean some of them will die and others will continue to suffer before they get access to effective investigations and information that some of them so desperately need."

Proposals signed-off in the Stormont House Agreement are still on ice due to a small number of outstanding political disputes.

Mr Brokenshire has said he is planning a public consultation exercise on the framework in a bid to move on from the impasse.

Both the commissioner and the Victims and Survivors Forum have challenged the Secretary of State to stick to his commitment to move ahead with consultations in the absence of an Executive.

They have just concluded a series of meetings with the leaders of Stormont's five main political parties.

Forum members said, "All the main parties are supportive of immediate consultations around legacy institutions and there is no need for delay in the absence of an Assembly, since the legislation would in any case be laid before MPs at Westminster.

"When we met the Secretary of State recently, he assured us that he could and would issue consultation documents even if the Assembly was not back up and running.

"We are now calling upon him to do deliver upon his promise."