Troubles legacy: NI Office faces investigation over policy

By Julian O'Neill
BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

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Image source, PACEMAKER
Image caption,
A woman confronts a soldier at Whiterock in Belfast during the Troubles

Government policy on Troubles legacy is facing investigation over a complaint that it failed to comply with legislation under the Good Friday Agreement.

The Equality Commission is set to examine whether the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) breached its duties.

The complaint was lodged by two groups, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre.

They oppose the government's legacy proposal published in March.

Under it, the vast majority of Troubles cases would be closed by law, without new investigations - a move which is at odds with the legacy deal struck in 2014 at Stormont House.

The groups said the government, "unusually", has declined to release an equality assessment document, which would set out how the policy affects groups of victims.

They claimed this represented a breach of legislation connected to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, known as section 75.

"The equality duty was a core accountability safeguard under the agreement," a statement from the groups said.

"Whilst the secretary of state may wish to develop legacy policy in secret, the equality duty obliges transparency and needs to be abided by."

A UK government spokesperson said: "The Northern Ireland Office is fully committed to complying with its equality duties."

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