We need clarity on what is being spent on legacy, and where

Morning View
Morning View

The courts are trying to speed up legacy cases.

The Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan recently directed a review of legacy judicial review files so they are managed efficiently.

Sir Declan also plans to commence a review of outstanding writ actions relating to legacy matters.

This is an important and welcome announcement, the outcome of which will be watched with interest.

Meanwhile the government can also examine a specific aspect of legacy: what taxpayers are paying in legal aid for civil cases against the state, of which there are many.

This figure can be established in other ways, for example by elected politicians in parliamentary questions or by the media. But departments can refuse to answer questions if they think a requested format involves disproportionate cost. It is easier for this Tory government, propped up by the DUP, to get to the bottom of the legacy imbalance, to which James Brokenshire referred in January.

This scandal is particularly relevant given how, as Mark Tipper, brother of a Hyde Park bomb victim, will explain to the Ulster Unionist conference today, victims of the IRA – by far the biggest killing group of the Troubles – are failing to get either civil or criminal justice for their loss.

This is partly because different legal aid rules prevail in GB. It is also because IRA victims do not take cases in NI.

But we need first to get concrete data on the amount the state is paying to fund cases against the state.