Statement by Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, following Royal Assent of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act.

“The legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland has always been one of the key issues left unaddressed since the signing of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“Yesterday’s Royal Assent of the Northern Ireland (Troubles & Reconciliation) Act marks a significant milestone as the Government aims to deliver on our pledge to deliver better outcomes for those most affected by the Troubles, while helping society to look forward.

“I recognise getting to this juncture has been a hugely difficult task for all. The legislation contains finely balanced political and moral choices.

“It presents us all with a real opportunity to deliver greater information, accountability and acknowledgement to victims and families, moving away from established mechanisms that have left far too many empty-handed.  I am confident that this Act provides a framework to enable the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) that it establishes to deliver effective legacy mechanisms, while complying with our international obligations.

“The delivery of those mechanisms will be led by Sir Declan Morgan KC as Chief Commissioner, who will be supported by Peter Sheridan as Commissioner for Investigations. I know Sir Declan and his team of Commissioners will approach the task with the rigour, integrity, and professionalism required.

“If we are truly to provide greater information, accountability and acknowledgement to victims and families of the Troubles and help society to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation, we must build a legacy process founded on integrity, expertise and fairness.

“Now that the legislation has become law, the UK Government will do all it can to support the ICRIR, consistent with its operational independence, as it establishes itself and seeks to deliver effectively for victims and families. I hope that others, including the Irish Government, can do the same.”

Published 19 September 2023