A judge has ruled that Arlene Foster’s decision to block funding for the lord chief justice’s plan for legacy inquests was unlawful and flawed. He said the former first minister was wrong to think she could postpone the decision until after political agreement on dealing with the past. However, Sir Paul Girvan said it was unlikely money would have been released if discussed by the executive. This was due to failings in the paper supplied by the Justice Department. The judge rejected a call to compel the Stormont Executive, secretary of state and others to arrange funding of legacy inquests, stating that “the court cannot direct government departments how to spend public funds”. He said the obligation on the state to investigate deaths during the conflict remained whether or not devolved government was restored.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan has sought additional funding to complete 54 inquests into 94 deaths within five years. Brigid Hughes had challenged ongoing failure by the Executive Office at Stormont, the Justice Department and the Northern Ireland Secretary to put in place adequate funding to prevent further delays in holding legacy inquests. Her husband Anthony died in May 1987 when he was innocently caught in crossfire between soldiers and the IRA as republicans attacked Loughgall police station in County Armagh. His is one of the 94 deaths that would be covered by the lord chief justice’s proposals. Mrs Hughes said: “I am very pleased that things have worked out today the way they have but they have taken a very long time”. With many thanks to: BBCNI for the origional story.