NIO Minister Lord Caine 'deeply regrets' actions of Irish Government in Legacy Act challenge

Lord Caine Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Consequences for UK-Irish relations cannot be ruled out because of legal action over the Troubles Legacy Bill, a Northern Ireland Office minister has said.

Lord Caine said he deeply regretted the decision by the Irish Government to launch an interstate case over the UK’s Act to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

"We deeply regret the actions of the Irish Government in this case and we feel the actions to be deeply unnecessary," he told UTV.

"The Legacy Act passed Parliament in September, we are in the process of establishing the new legacy commission.

"We would have hoped and preferred that the new body is given the time and space to establish itself and also that the Irish Government, if it had concerns, would discuss directly with the new commission, and so we feel this is unnecessary."

Irish premier Leo Varadkar had said his government was left with “no option” but to legally challenge the UK Government over the Legacy Act.

The Taoiseach said the “strong” legal advice was that the UK Legacy Act breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Act received royal assent in September despite widespread opposition from political parties, victims’ organisations in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government.

Aspects of the laws include a limited form of immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences for those who co-operate with the new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

The new Act will also halt future civil cases and legacy inquests.

Multiple Troubles victims and family members are supporting a separate legal challenge against aspects of the Act at Belfast High Court.

The Irish Government’s legal challenge has been welcomed by a number of families of Troubles victims.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson accused Dublin of “double standards” and challenged the Irish Government to say what it is doing to deal with Troubles legacy cases in its jurisdiction.

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