Northern Ireland

NI talks: Nine new public bodies proposed in draft agreement

Enda Kenny and David Cameron Image copyright AP
Image caption Prime Minister David Cameron and his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny have presented a number of proposals to the Northern Ireland political parties

At least nine new public bodies could be established if the political talks involving the British and Irish governments and the Northern Ireland Executive parties succeed.

The details are contained in the draft agreement presented to the five executive parties by the two governments.

The paper which has been seen by the BBC suggests the establishment of a Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition Commission.

It would take 18 months to report and would consist of 15 members, with seven being appointed by the Executive parties.

The remaining eight members would be drawn from outside government. This new body would look at the flying of flags and also examine the broader issues of culture, identity and tradition.

On the controversial issue of parading, a number of new bodies are proposed including the establishment of the Office for Parades and Related Protests.

Parades

This would examine mainly non-contentious parades and protests and would have an administrative function.

Another agency suggested, the Public Events Adjudication Authority, would regulate parades and it would be established through legislation in the Assembly.

It would consist of seven members including a chair and would be charged with making legally binding determinations relating to parades.

With relation to the past, a series of new bodies have been suggested. These ideas were first mooted during inter-party discussions in 2013 chaired by the former US diplomat Richard Haass.

The paper suggests the establishment of an Oral History Archive which would provide an arena for people to share their experiences of the Troubles. The archive would be independent and free from political interference.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The Public Events Adjudication Authority would regulate parades and it would be established through legislation in the Assembly

As part of the archive, a research project would be established to produce a timeline and analysis of the Troubles. It would report within 12 months.

Legislation is also planned to introduce a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) which would examine deaths relating to the Troubles.

It would take on outstanding work from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the legacy work of the Police Ombudsman.

This new body will have full policing powers, and the document states the "HIU should aim to complete its work within five years of its establishment".

The British government says it would "make disclosure to the chairperson", but says measures may need to be taken that will not put individuals at risk or "damage national security".

Another body that would examine the past is a new Independent Commission on Information Retrieval. Known as ICIR, it will be led by four members and would exist to help victims and survivors who want to seek and receive information about the death of their next of kin.

ICIR would not disclose information it receives to law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

However, the document presented to the local parties states that "no individual who provides information to the body will be immune from prosecution for any crime committed should the required evidential test be satisfied by other means".

Reconciliation

In order to oversee the issue of information recovery and the archives, an Implementation and Reconciliation Group would be established.

The document states that promoting reconciliation would be at the heart of this group's work.

The paper presented to the executive parties also states that "it is important that civic voices are heard and civic views are considered in relation to key social, cultural and economic issues".

The paper states that a "new engagement model could help deliver this goal".

This could mean the establishment of a new Civic Forum by June 2015 .

The document also details that an Equality and Good Relations Commission would be established that could provide the secretariat to the civic advisory panel.

A new north-south body has also been proposed, which would bring together representatives from civic society.

This forum would have joint chairs appointed by the executive and the Irish government.

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