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Northern Ireland Office will provide no more funding for Troubles investigations

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said no further funding would be made available. Picture via Getty Images
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said no further funding would be made available. Picture via Getty Images

A SUPPORT group for families of the Omagh bombing victims has hit out at the British Government for not providing further funding for investigations into Troubles-related deaths.

The Secretary of State said in a statement on Friday that no further funding will be provided to the PSNI for legacy investigations.

The NIO, led by the North of Ireland’s Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, was responding to a request for additional funding from newly instated First Minister Arlene Foster for additional funds – despite the fact that £150million has already been pledged.

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But the decision not to issue any further financial assistance to the PSNI for such investigations has been met with backlash from the Northern Irish community.

“These crimes were all committed during partition from London so under the British reign if you like,” Omagh Support & Self Help Group spokesman Michael Gallagher told The Irish Post.

“Why should it be left to the current generation to pay for this?”

Omagh Support & Self Help Group spokesman Michael Gallagher. Picture: Getty Images
Omagh Support & Self Help Group spokesman Michael Gallagher. Picture: Getty Images

Mr Gallagher, who lost his son in the 1998 bombing at the hands of the Real IRA, went on to say: “The British Government should step up and provide all of the funding for this, it should not be down to the current budgets.”

Ms Villiers’ statement made it clear that funds will not be provided from the NIO for legacy issues, saying that any such investigation is “a matter for the PSNI” and “it is the Department of Justice and the wider Northern Ireland Executive who have the responsibility for funding the PSNI”.

But the NIO is committed to providing its promised £150m (over the five years from 2013), in part to support new bodies being set up to investigate the past in the North of Ireland.

Despite the availability of this, there has been no movement in setting up new bodies in the North.

After US diplomat Richard Haas’ peace talks in Belfast in 2013, the British, Irish and Northern Irish Governments pledged to establish a ‘truth commission’.

The Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) has been touted for establishment since Haas’ visit almost three years ago but so far there have been no further developments – despite the funding being in place via the NIO.

Legacy investigations have been in the spotlight in recent months, with the landmark first arrest and release of a former British soldier in connection to the Bloody Sunday shootings in November of last year.

The backlash from this arrest saw a group former paratroopers based in Britain lodge a successful legal bid with the London’s High Court to prevent their extradition for questioning in Belfast.

Despite Ms Villiers claims that additional funding should come via the Department of Justice of NIE, the North’s Justice Minister David Ford claims his department does not have the resources.

“The justice system is carrying out its duties,” the Alliance Party MLA said.

“It is time that the Government lived up to its responsibilities and no longer let down the justice system and, more important, victims.”

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James Mulhall
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James Mulhall is a reporter with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @JamzMulhall

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