On 13 September 2022, the second reading of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. The bill has been introduced by the government to address the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Key measures of the bill would:

  • Create the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) to conduct investigations into Troubles-related deaths and very serious injuries. The body would compile and publish a report of its findings following each review.
  • Introduce a conditional immunity scheme, allowing those who cooperate with the ICRIR to receive immunity from prosecution from Troubles-related offences, where certain conditions are met. In the event immunity is not granted, the ICRIR could continue its investigation and submit a file for prosecution.
  • Prevent investigations into Troubles-related conduct, other than those conducted by the ICRIR.
  • Prohibit civil claims that had not been filed by the date of the bill’s introduction (17 May 2022).
  • Stop coroner’s inquests which had not reached an advanced stage and prohibit future inquests into Troubles-related deaths. Those cases not at an advanced stage could be referred to the ICRIR for investigation.
  • Initiate a programme of memorialisation.

The bill completed its stages in the House of Commons on 4 July 2022, following a vote at third reading. Throughout the bill’s passage in the Commons, opposition was voiced by the Labour party and the political parties from Northern Ireland. They expressed concern about the lack of consensus on the bill and argued that it was balanced in the favour of offenders and would not aid reconciliation. Members across the political spectrum were concerned about the conditions for granting immunity; the ending of criminal prosecutions and legal proceedings; changes to the early prisoner release scheme; and its compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. 

The only change made to the bill during its passage through the House of Commons was to exclude sexual offences from within the scope of the immunity from prosecution provisions. However, the government gave members an undertaking to revisit issues such as sentencing and non-compliance with the commission as it reached the House of Lords.

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