Northern Ireland

NI Troubles: Call to use part of £150m legacy fund for PSNI and Police Ombudsman investigations

David Ford
Image caption Justice Minister David Ford told the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday that the UK government has a responsibility to help deal with the legacy of the Troubles

The government has been urged to make available part of a special £150m fund which has been set aside for new legacy bodies to the PSNI and Police Ombudsman to investigate the past.

The Treasury has agreed to make the money available over a five-year period for a proposed new Historical Investigations Unit and other bodies.

But the failure of Stormont politicians to reach agreement on how best to deal with the past means those institutions, and the money, are now on hold.

Justice Minister David Ford told the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday that until agreement is reached, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Police Ombudsman will remain responsible for legacy investigations.

However, they have not been given any additional funding for the task.

The minister said he has been assured that the government intends honouring its financial promise, but only when the new bodies are established.

Additional staff

Mr Ford said he has met the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and "made the point strenuously" that the government has a responsibility to help deal with the past.

"There needs to be an arrangement to provide additional money for institutions required to deal with the past," he said.

The minister also said the failure of Stormont's recent Fresh Start agreement to decide how best to deal with legacy issues was "potentially throwing away the best opportunity for a generation to deal with our troubled past".

He added that the failure had also made progress on legacy inquests "much more difficult".

He revealed that he has authorised the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service to recruit "investigative support" for coroners to deal with those inquests, which include some of the most controversial killings of the troubles.

The appointments of additional staff are expected to be made by the spring of next year.

More on this story