A SENIOR Northern Ireland judge today starts a review of inquests into some of the most controversial killings during the Troubles.
Lord Justice Reg Weir QC will cast his eye over a total of 55 case involving 96.
They include killings by police officers and soldiers, and others where there are allegations of state collusion.
Twenty-two of the cases are more than 40 years old.
Lord Justice Weir, the presiding judge of the Coroners’ Service, will spend the next fortnight carrying out preliminary hearings on the files to assess their state of readiness for inquests.
Families of those who were killed and their legal teams have been asked to inform the court of the issues which are outstanding in each of the cases.
Following a completion of the review, a coroner will be appointed to hear inquests which are ready for a fully hearing.
The most complex and controversial ones are likely to be heard by a High Court judge, while others will be heard by a County Court judge.
The review was announced by the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan in October, a month before he was appointed president of the Coroners’ Courts.
Sir Declan said he wanted to assure the families of those who were killed that he was “fully committed to doing all that I can, within my sphere of influence and with the resources at my disposal, to ensure that justice is delivered”.
But he also warned that it could be “many years” before most of the cases could be dealt with.
In November 2014, Sir Declan warned that inquests into deaths involving alleged state collusion and cover-up could go on until 2040 unless the coronial system was changed.
The inquest into the shooting dead of IRA man Pearse Jordan in west Belfast 20 years ago is expected to go ahead next month.