Legislation to deliver on the Government’s commitments addressing the legacy of the troubles under the Stormont House Agreement
Mechanism to be established to permit Coroners in Northern Ireland to access Garda testimony.
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, T.D., has today announced the publication of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Bill 2019, following approval by the Government.
The Bill is an important step in the Government’s commitment to the agreed measures to address the legacy of the troubles on this island and to support the victims of the conflict and their families.
In addition to enhancing the co-operation being provided to ongoing Coroners’ Inquests in Northern Ireland into historical deaths, the legislation will further underpin the Government’s commitment to full co-operation with the framework of measures set out in the Stormont House Agreement.
The Minister said
This legislation is an important and concrete demonstration of the Government’s commitment to dealing with the painful legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland. We acknowledge that addressing the needs of the victims of the troubles is a key aspect of our efforts to support and to promote reconciliation.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I was intimately involved in the negotiation of the Stormont House Agreement and as Minister for Justice and Equality I am delivering on legal measures necessary to underpin the commitments on legacy matters.
This legislation will respond to the needs of Coroners in Northern Ireland and Britain dealing with legacy cases to access testimony from An Garda Síochána where this is relevant to their inquests. It will also provide a structured mechanism to enhance co-operation with a number of bodies dealing with deaths related to the troubles, including the Historical Investigations Unit to be established in Northern Ireland and the Ireland-UK Independent Commission on Information Retrieval, both of which arise from the Stormont House Agreement.
The Bill is available on the Oireachtas website https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2019/49/
Notes for Editors
- In 2014, the Irish and British Governments together with the Northern Ireland Executive parties took part in 11 weeks of political talks, resulting in the Stormont House Agreement of 23 December 2014. The Stormont House Agreement covers a broad range of political, social and economic issues and includes significant and agreed proposals for dealing with the past in Northern Ireland.
- There is no existing legal method to ensure that Coroners in Northern Ireland and Britain can access Garda Síochána testimony, where this may be relevant to their inquests. This Bill will provide for a mechanism in Irish law to make such testimony accessible to those Coroners.
- This Bill will extend Garda powers to enter into co-operation agreements with certain bodies in order to ensure that mutually beneficial co-operation between An Garda Síochána and relevant bodies in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere) can be maximised. This will underpin co-operation with the Coroner in Northern Ireland where needed.
- The Bill will also make technical amendments to:
- The Garda Síochána Acts to clarify the impact of previous amendments made in the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Acts 2008 and 2015; and
- The European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, as amended, in order to provide greater consistency in the Act with the relevant corresponding Articles of Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002; and
- To amend section 107 of the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008, arising out of an incorrect reference in Section 208 of the Data Protection Act 2018.