The Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Judith Thompson today met with the Lord Chief Justice to discuss the impact of the continuing delay in dealing with the backlog of legacy cases in the Coronial Court.
Sir Declan Morgan was invited to join the Commissioner and members of the Victims Forum to give an overview of his efforts to address legacy cases and the barriers he has faced in delivering for victims and their families.
Since he met the Commissioner when he became President of the Coroners Court in November 2015, four cases have been progressed. Despite his best efforts, the Commissioner commented, “I am profoundly disappointed on behalf of victims and survivors to hear the LCJ say that it has been a wasted year for him.
“It is of deep concern to me that Sir Declan Morgan has not been resourced and supported to deliver these vitally important hearings for families who are from all parts of our community and who have suffered immeasurably over the years.
Victims and survivors have told me consistently that accessing truth and justice are critically important in addressing the impact of their loss. If we are committed to building a safe and strong future for our society then these cases must be addressed through the Coronial Court.
Furthermore, the Coronial Courts can only address some cases and it is essential that the new institutions envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement are established. It is only by this means that the far greater number of families who have been bereaved can access a proper investigative process.
I welcome the Lord Chief Justice’s confirmation that it is simply not correct to suggest that he has chosen to give priority to cases in which it is the State that is being held to account. He stressed that he wants to see outcomes delivered for all victims and survivors and that he has not sought to promote the rights of any group of victims or survivors to the detriment of others.
I am also very worried about the impact of the current debate about prosecutions on victims. Behind every story and soundbite is a family who have lost someone they loved dearly. The suggestion that some cases should not be pursued leaves those families feeling that their bereavement is being diminished and ignored.
I agree wholeheartedly with the Lord Chief Justice when he says we cannot hope to move on as a society while we remain under the shadow of the past”.
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