Dáil debates

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Northern Ireland

11:50 am

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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42. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in implementing new legislative measures arising from the Fresh Start agreement and Stormont House Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4325/19]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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The bombing incident in Derry was a stark reminder of the bad days on our island. The Stormont House Agreement and the Fresh Start agreement contain important measures to deal with paramilitarism and put an end to criminal activity.

There is also the broader issue of ensuring that legacy issues are dealt with and that we work in the interests of victims and their families. The Minister might give us an outline of what progress has been made.

12:00 pm

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois, Fine Gael)
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The Government is fully committed to giving effect to the provisions of the Stormont House Agreement and the Fresh Start agreement. As Deputy Smith will appreciate, the continuing political stalemate in Northern Ireland has resulted in considerable delay in making progress with the legacy framework in particular. The Government remains committed to the re-establishment of the Executive and the Assembly in Northern Ireland and we continue to work with counterparts to that end.

In November 2017 the Government approved the drafting of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Bill. The Bill will facilitate further co-operation by An Garda Síochána with the legacy framework in Northern Ireland, including with the proposed historical investigations unit, HIU, dealing with legacy inquests. As the Deputy will be aware, a high level of co-operation with the HIU will immediately be possible under existing mutual legal assistance arrangements. The Bill is at an advanced stage of drafting and I intend to bring this legislation to the Government in the near future to seek approval to proceed to publish.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The Government signed an international agreement with the British Government in September 2015 on the establishment of the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval, ICIR. The development of proposals for legislation to establish the ICIR in this jurisdiction is being progressed. In the context of giving effect to the Stormont House Agreement legacy framework, the British Government undertook a consultation process on the agreement's legacy provisions, which ended in October 2018. Irish officials are liaising with their counterparts in Northern Ireland on the outcome of this process with a view to the Governments bringing forward complementary legislative proposals to establish ICIR in our respective jurisdictions.

Under the Fresh Start agreement the Government enacted the Independent Reporting Commission Act 2017 in August 2017. This legislation, together with parallel legislation enacted in the UK, has given effect to the IRC, a cross-Border body charged with monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the executive action plan to tackle paramilitarism in Northern Ireland. I was very pleased to publish the first report of the IRC in October 2018. Progress has been made in giving effect to elements of the action plan. More work needs to be done and the re-establishment of the Executive will be critical in that regard.