The UK Government has lodged an application to appeal last week’s decision from the Belfast High Court which found portions of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

"Following consideration of all aspects of the judgment, the UK Government has lodged an application for an appeal with the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal,” a UK Government spokesperson told IrishCentral on Thursday.

"We remain committed to implementing the Legacy Act and delivering the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors of the Troubles by giving them more information about what happened to their loved ones."

The UK Government is launching its appeal after Justice Adrian Colton said in the Belfast High Court on February 28: "I am satisfied that immunity from prosecution provisions under Section 19 of the (Northern Ireland Troubles) Act are in breach of the lead applicant's rights pursuant to Article 2 of the ECHR.

“I am also satisfied that they are in breach of Article 3 of the ECHR.

"There is no evidence that the granting of immunity under the Act will in any way contribute to reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Indeed, the evidence is to the contrary.”

However, Justice Colton, who acknowledged he understands the opposition to the new scheme, also concluded that the ICRIR is capable of carrying out an ECHR-compliant investigation into Troubles-related deaths and offenses.

Responding to the court's ruling, Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris said: “This is a complex case and is likely to head to further court cases, further action in higher courts.

“I do want to consider this judgment carefully and I want to look at all 200 pages and take the legal advice that he would expect me to take in such circumstances.

“But we do remain committed the Legacy Act, including delivering the ICRIR.”

The controversial Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act, which received royal assent in September 2023, will end new Troubles-era cases and inquests and offer conditional amnesty to those accused of killings.

The legislation has the rare distinction of being opposed by all of Northern Ireland’s major political parties. It is also opposed by victims and victims groups, the Irish government, US politicians, Irish American groups, UN experts, and the majority of the UK public.

The day after the bill received royal assent, Amnesty International UK said victims had joined together and submitted legal challenges to the Belfast High Court with an urgent hearing requested.

The Belfast High Court received 20 applications challenging various provisions of the Act. After narrowing the number of applications, four applicants (Martina Dillon, John McEvoy, Lynda McManus, and Brigid Hughes) were condensed into one lead case, while applications from Teresa Jordan, Gemma Gilravy, and Patrick Fitzsimmons were also considered.

Meanwhile, the Irish Government announced in December that it is initiating an inter-State case against the UK under the ECHR regarding the legislation, a move which the British Government "profoundly regrets."