Northern Ireland

NIO warns Stormont parties of spiralling cost of past

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe paper says the current approach is not sufficiently meeting the needs of victims

The cost of dealing with Northern Ireland's past will rise inescapably and unpredictably unless politicians reach agreement, a government paper obtained by the BBC has suggested.

The discussion document written by the Northern Ireland Office was circulated to the five executive parties.

It was presented to the parties during the current round of Stormont talks.

The paper says the current approach is not sufficiently meeting the needs of victims.

It says the controversy over the past could destabilise decision-making in the executive.

The paper also states that dealing with legacy issues costs more than £50m a year, a figure that is likely to increase.

It also notes that legacy obligations, currently carried out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Police Ombudsman's Office, are stretching their capacity.

Doing nothing would allow the position to deteriorate further, the document says.

This paper also suggests there is some merit in bodies to retrieve or investigate information about the Troubles, that were proposed by former US diplomat Richard Haass during last year's talks.

This latest round of talks, which began last month, are focusing on issues including flags, parades and the past, as well as welfare reform.