Only a small number of Troubles killings will receive “full-blown” investigations under a new approach to dealing with Northern Ireland’s past.
The plan, announced by the government on Wednesday, will likely disappoint hundreds of families.
It would see the vast majority of almost 2,000 unsolved cases closed and prevented in legislation from ever being re-opened.
The move represents a significant rethink of the legacy issue.
Under what is being proposed, unresolved cases would be “swiftly” assessed by a new independent body.
But only those in which there is “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution” would move to a full-blown investigation.
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In the rest of the cases, the objective would be to provide families with as much information possible.
The Northern Ireland Office said: “Once cases have been considered there will be a legal bar on any future investigation occurring.
“This will end the cycle of reinvestigations for the families of victims and (army) veterans alike.
Parties have been briefed about the plan, which would need to be adopted in legislation at Westminster.
One source familiar with discussions said while there is “a route to prosecutions, it is not the emphasis” under the fresh approach.
Previously, all or most cases would likely have had an investigation – a process which could collectively have taken a decade to achieve at a cost £400m.
The government has pledged to table legacy legislation within 100 days of Stormont’s return in January.
The deadline is still being worked towards.
The updated legacy plan has been set out on the same day as the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Jonny Mercer, announces legislation to protect former soldiers from “vexatious” historical investigations.
Notably however, it will only cover overseas operations, not Northern Ireland.