WATCH: Ballymurphy Inquest reaction – Irish Government needs to live up to legacy commitments

Patrick Costello calls for the enacting of legislation in Dublin to give effect to legacy investigation provisions in the Stormont House Agreement.

Full transcript:

I join with my colleagues in the Chamber in recognising the strength and dignity of the families of Ballymurphy in demanding justice over all of these years. So many other families are in similar situations and are still yearning for justice. References have been made to the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. In recent months, we heard news of demands being made of the British Government with regard to the reopening of the inquest into the murder of Pat Finucane. We have seen the British Government avoid, as best it can, calls for justice, transparency and openness at every turn. We have seen obfuscation through official inquiries, which have been described here as blocking the truth. We have seen refusals by the British Government and state to release papers and archives. We have seen the hard drives of the Cory inquiry seized and destroyed while the inquiry was still in progress. These are really nasty and insidious things that are ultimately blocking the truth. As everyone here has said, this is a trauma and truth and reconciliation are needed to help us all move forward. I have been talking to my colleagues in the Green Party in Northern Ireland a lot with regard to the need to address this trauma.

While holding Westminster to account is incredibly important as it is Westminster that is most responsible for blocking this, we also need to look to ourselves. The Irish Government signed up to the Stormont House Agreement. We are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. The independent commission on information retrieval that makes up part of this will need legislation in both London and Dublin if it is to work properly. Why are we waiting on a government in London that has shown time and again that it does not want the truth to come out and that is seeking to block the truth? I have been asking the Minister for Justice about this and I have been told that ongoing contact is being made with our British counterparts. No timeline has been given. There is no suggestion as to when this legislation can be implemented.

We need to take responsibility ourselves and move ahead, even if it means moving ahead without the British Government. We need to move ahead to start the conversation about what the independent commission on information retrieval will look like and how it will function. By starting that conversation, we can put greater pressure on the British Government to come with us, to act and to seek out the truth to help address the trauma. We need to take responsibility ourselves. The Irish Government, as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, needs to push ahead and help the relatives in their fight for truth and justice. We can do that by pushing ahead with our own developments in respect of the independent commission agreed to in the Stormont House Agreement, to which we signed up. If others will not play their part, we should still be seen to carry out our role. Throughout the Brexit process, the Government of the time spoke a lot about how Northern Ireland should never be left behind again. This is another situation in which Northern Ireland should not be left behind. We need to play our part even if others do not. We need to move ahead without those who just want to block any truth and, ultimately, any reconciliation.