Wednesday 20 September 2023

Northern Ireland - new (controversial) legislation

On Monday 18 September, several Acts received Royal Assent (here).  Included in the list was the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland argues that - 'The legislation contains finely balanced political and moral choices. It presents us all with a real opportunity to deliver greater information, accountability and acknowledgement to victims and families, moving away from established mechanisms that have left far too many empty-handed' NI Troubles (Legacy & Reconciliation) Act receives Royal Assent - GOV.UK (

The government has published further explanation of the legislation - Explainers relating to the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill - GOV.UK (

The Bill establishes a new body, the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR). It is argued that investigations conducted by the ICRIR will be capable of fulfilling the State's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights - Arts 2 and 3.

There are reports of unhappiness with the arrangements to be made by the Act.

One possibility is an inter-State case brought by Ireland against the UK - Varadkar restates Ireland will consider taking interstate case if UK Legacy Bill is passed | UTV | ITV News.

A view has been expressed that Ireland would be advised to hesitate and consider these legal points before suing the UK over its legacy act ( A number of points are made by barrister Dr Austen Morgan.

Another possibility is legal challenges in the UK courts - Troubles legacy: Controversial bill facing more legal challenges - BBC News. Some of those challenges may, in time, find their way to the European Court of Human Rights.


Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament

Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill 2022-2023 - House of Commons Library (

Joint Committee on Human Rights 2022 - Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill (

Joint Committee on Human Rights 2015 - Human Rights Judgments - Human Rights Joint Committee (

Independent Commission for Reconciliation & Information Recovery (

UPDATE 23 September 2023

Council of Europe voices 'serious concern' over the British government failure to address legacy bill shortcomings - The Irish News

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