Ford says status quo on dealing with the past not sustainable

Alliance Leader David Ford has said the current status quo on dealing with the past is not sustainable, after Northern Ireland’s most senior judge said urgent progress was needed on the issue.

Former Justice Minister Mr Ford was speaking after Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said it was disappointing that the Executive had yet to reach an agreement on dealing with the past. He had previously requested £10 million funding for a five-year programme to deal with inquests into Troubles killings, a request blocked by First Minister Arlene Foster.

Mr Ford said victims and their families were being forgotten about during the process.

“At Stormont House, proposals on dealing with the past, which reflected many Alliance policies, were agreed in order to take the issue forward in a way that was both sensitive and inclusive of the needs and wishes of victims. However, almost two years later, we are still without a resolution on the matter.

“Those who backed last year’s so-called Fresh Start deal said that although it did not deal with the past, those issues could be picked up and agreed in the near future. This has proven to be incorrect. My proposals to fund legacy inquests were never put to the Executive by the First and deputy First Ministers.

“Alliance put proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of our consideration for retaking the Justice Ministry, to resolve outstanding issues around the legacy of the past. However, they were rejected by those two parties.

“Today’s comments by the Lord Chief Justice, though measured in tone, reveal how disappointed he is at the failure of the current Executive to make progress in the last three months. The good work of the judiciary has been let down by political failure.

“Victims are far too important to be used as a political football by the DUP, Sinn Fein and the two Governments, which is precisely how they continue to be treated by those groups throughout this process. The current status quo is not sustainable – instead, we need to comprehensively deal with the past so victims and their families can have their issues resolved.”

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