UK-Ireland ‘reset’ means victim-centred approach to Troubles legacy – Harris

By Cillian Sherlock, PA

A reset in UK-Ireland relations means a victim-centred approach to legacy issues in Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach has said.

The Government recently mounted a legal case in the European Court of Human Rights against controversial legacy laws introduced by the previous UK government which offer a limited form of immunity for perpetrators of Troubles crimes.

Ahead of the elections in the UK, new prime minister and Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, vowed to repeal the contentious legislation provisions.

Taoiseach Simon Harris and Mr Starmer have both said there is an opportunity to “reset” relations between the UK and Ireland following the election.


Speaking at an event on Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the killing of Irish senator Billy Fox, Mr Harris said he wanted to assert his “unwavering commitment” to protecting the rights and interests of all those who have suffered during the Troubles.

Mr Fox, a former TD and senator, was shot dead by IRA gunmen on March 11th, 1974 after he interrupted their raid on a farmhouse – the home of his girlfriend – in Co Monaghan.

Mr Harris said that Mr Fox was a peacemaker who had worked for all those on the island of Ireland.

The Taoiseach added: “We need to see a process to deal with legacy and reconciliation that is truth based, victim centred, that is aligned with human rights and is embedded in the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

“To me, that is what a reset of Anglo-Irish relations looks like.”

The Irish Government has not committed to immediately dropping its inter-state legal case against the UK’s Legacy Act.

Mr Harris has previously said he wants to work with the UK prime minister in developing an approach to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The Act sees investigations for unresolved Troubles deaths moved to a new truth recovery body, the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

The new arrangements have been controversial with victims’ groups and organisations, and are opposed by all of the main political parties in Northern Ireland.

The commission has already been established and is operational.

Chief commissioner Sir Declan Morgan said the body’s commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights is “paramount”.