On 10 July 2023, Relatives For Justice (RFJ) met with former Lord Chief Justice, Declan Morgan, at his request. As Chief Commissioner, under the NIO’s extremely contested NI Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill. He is meeting a range of interested groups and individuals seeking to explain why he has taken up this post.
RFJ outlined that members of our organisation had been deeply sceptical about agreeing to the meeting as this might appear to endorse his position and, by extension, give credibility to the legislation under which he has been appointed.
RFJ reminded him that we have worked with many thousands of victims’ relatives, a good number of whom had gained a measure of satisfaction from inquests and Police Ombudsman investigations where these had been resourced adequately and been able to operate independently of NIO and state security control.
During a robust exchange of views, RFJ outlined its view that the current legislation ensures he will not be independent of government and will have to operate with legislation that is not compliant with the British government’s human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, or UN Conventions Against Torture and on Civil and Political Rights.
Declan Morgan outlined his reasons for agreeing to take up the position. He also explained that the courts will have to rule on a number of elements of the legislation, as legal challenges will be taken. In particular, he said that should the courts rule that the legislation is not compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention, he would have no option but to resign.
Relatives For Justice left Declan Morgan in no doubt that we remain absolutely opposed to the NIO’s legislative campaign and the mechanisms – including that chaired by Declan Morgan – that will be established under it, and have no confidence in his position.