Release of State records on North to change in line with UK

Previously announced Government plans to release State records relating to the Troubles and peace process in Northern Ireland are to be accelerated amid concern Ireland’s version of events is being overtaken by that of Britain.

Cabinet will confirm the move after its weekly meeting this morning, which is also expected to see the heads of bill for new rules on judicial appointments published as part of a deal between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance.

Under measures first revealed in October 2015, Ireland is planning to speed up the timescale for when it can release State records from the current 30-year delay to just 20 years.

The move, due to take place on a phased basis over the coming decade, relates to a wide range of departments, which could benefit from greater transparency.

However, privately, it is widely accepted the issue is focused on the need to ensure Ireland’s files relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the resulting peace process are released at the same time as those from British sources. In 2013, Westminster cut its 30-year rule to 20 years .

While the situation was partially addressed by Ireland’s October 2015 decision to also increase its rate of release, a linked amendment due to be brought to cabinet by Arts Minister Heather Humphreys today will attempt to address the imbalance further. The move will take place during a cabinet meeting, which is also expected to see Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald bring forward the heads of bill for the upcoming judicial appointments bill.

The bill, which will alter the way in which judges are appointed across the State, will be published in January.

The law change has been sought by Transport Minister Shane Ross, and is seen as part of a deal with Fine Gael which will also see current positions filled before the new legislation is enacted.

The cabinet meeting is also expected to see the nomination of two new members of garda watchdog GSOC, the publication of a report on Irish insolvency figures, and the annual report of the Irish Sports Council.


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