Chairman of Stormont’s Executive Office Committee Colin McGrath MLA has said that the joint First Ministers are ducking their responsibility to advance legacy commitments in New Decade, New Approach.
Speaking after receiving written confirmation that Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill have failed to engage jointly with the UK government on legacy funding, Colin McGrath said that it reflected an appalling failure to set aside their differences and work together to help victims.
Colin McGrath MLA said:
“New Decade, New Approach contains a set of clear obligations in relation to the legacy of the past and funding mechanisms designed to deliver truth, justice and accountability. Among these is a commitment within 100 days for the British Government to legislate to implement the Stormont House Agreement legacy structures. It has now been 500 days since the publication of these commitments and the British Government’s approach to dealing with the past has diverged significantly from the agreement.
“In those circumstances, it is astounding that the joint First Ministers have not held a solitary engagement together with the Northern Ireland Office about legacy funding obligations in NDNA. It is, frankly, an embarrassment to their office and an affront to victims and survivors who are being forced to campaign for the truth about what happened to their loved ones long after they were promised a process to support them.
“Dealing with the legacy of our past is not straightforward. But there is an obligation on those who hold the highest joint office in the Executive to work together in the interests of victims and survivors. It appears that our First Ministers have been unable to set their own differences aside over the last 500 days. New Decade, New Approach was the basis for parties entering the Executive. Its commitments and obligations must be fulfilled.”