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Continue to work for the full implementation of the 2014 Stormont House and 2015 Fresh Start Agreements

Last updated: 08:19pm 11 December 2019

A Conservative government will continue to work for the full implementation of the 2014 Stormont House and 2015 Fresh Start Agreements. This includes new bodies for addressing the legacy of the past in fair, balanced and proportionate ways which do not unfairly focus on former members of the Armed Forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.34

Our verdict

The Stormont House Agreement (SHA) 2014 and the Fresh Start Agreement 2015 were attempts to address “the legacy and impact of paramilitary activity” in Northern Ireland following the period known as the Troubles. Both agreements arose out of weeks of negotiations between the five main political parties in Northern Ireland, and the UK and Northern Irish governments. The SHA proposed, among other things, the establishment of four new institutions:

  • The Historical Investigations Unit
  • The Independent Commission on Information Retrieval
  • The Oral History Archive
  • The Implementation and Reconciliation Group

The Fresh Start Agreement set out more detailed commitments to implement the SHA. This policy is a promise to work for full implementation of both agreements.

From May to October 2018, the government held a consultation on Addressing The Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past which sought opinions on all of the proposed Stormont House Agreement institutions and included a draft of the proposed Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill.

In July 2019, an analysis of responses to the consultation was published which said:

“The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement and it is essential that our work continues.”

Progress appears to have stalled, however, with no formal response to the consultation yet from the government, as noted ahead of a September session of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

The government has consulted on implementing these two agreements, and drafted a bill with that in mind. However, the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, and the UK government’s ongoing difficulties exiting the European Union appear to have combined to prevent further action. There have been efforts towards implementation but time has run out. So, this one will remain ‘in progress’.

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