Labour has been called upon to fulfil its promise of scrapping the Troubles Legacy Act if it gains power after the general election. The move comes as the government appeals against a verdict from February which found parts of the act were unlawful. The most controversial element of the act allowed suspects in Troubles-era crimes conditional immunity in exchange for information. Families who lost loved ones during the conflict are still fighting to have other parts of the bill overthrown. These include access to fresh inquests and the “human rights compliance” of the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR), which was set up to investigate Troubles-era incidents.

Outside the court, Martina Dillon, who lost her husband to a paramilitary attack in 1997, urged Labour to dump the act if it forms a government. Last year, Keir Starmer, Labour’s leader, told families he would repeal the bill if he became prime minister. Amnesty International’s deputy director in Northern Ireland, Gráinne Teggart, called for the next UK government to “right this historic wrong” by repealing the legislation.

The government’s appeal is an attempt to overturn a significant defeat it suffered at the High Court in February, when a judge ruled that the act’s offer of conditional immunity was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Windsor Framework. The judge also banned the act’s bar on new civil cases. Relatives of victims are mounting a cross-appeal over another part of the ruling.

The Northern Ireland Troubles was a three-decade-long conflict which cost over 3,500 lives and left thousands more seriously injured. The Legacy Act was passed last year as an attempt by the UK government to “draw a line” under the affair. Boris Johnson’s administration proposed the bill as a resolution to what it called “vexatious prosecutions” of former soldiers. It became law in 2023, and includes a shutdown of all ongoing inquests and a prohibition on new civil cases relating to the Troubles. Critics have decried the act for denying justice to the victims of the conflict

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