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Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland

Why we’re here

Northern Ireland’s past still affects us today. 

It has shaped who we are as a society and individuals – in our beliefs, attitudes, politics and laws. 

When the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, peace had been achieved on paper. We have come a long way from the worst days of violence; new opportunities have created the space for us to thrive, but it is important to recognise it was those who suffered most who made great sacrifices to make peace possible.

Black and white silhouettes in front of a sunset

Almost 25 years later, the journey of reconciliation is still ongoing.

Many lives are still affected by physical injury, trauma, financial hardship, and other social legacies of conflict. It is in this space that the Commission exists; to help victims and survivors benefit from the promises of peace.

Fireplace with quote reading "a lot of families are quietly carrying their trauma"

The Commission represents the needs and interests of victims and survivors at the highest levels of government and throughout society.

We will keep making space for unfinished legacy issues, for which victims and survivors seek truth, justice and accountability. We will work to make sure they are seen, supported and strengthened in our changing society.

By listening to and sharing learning between those who lived through the Troubles, and those who have grown up in relative peace, we can heal wounds and build a healthy, hopeful society, united in the belief that we must not return to violence.

“I have learned that just as violence ripples out from individuals into society, so can growth and healing.”

Anonymous Survivor – Storytelling Project

“I’m not saying that we’ll ever be able to agree on what happened but… we need to be honest and to talk about the human hurt and the human pain. I think that would be very important for our healing.”

Anonymous Survivor – Storytelling Project

“I have found that when you get the opportunity to listen to other experiences… you start to understand that there isn’t as big a difference there as people would have us think. I believe in the power of creating safe spaces for people to tell their stories and talk about difficult issues.”

Anonymous Survivor – Storytelling Project

“You get more appreciative of the fact that there are victims right through the whole of our society… and their pain is the exact same, no matter where they come from or what happened to them or who did what to whom.”

Anonymous Survivor – Storytelling Project

Our history

‘The Troubles’ (or Northern Ireland conflict) was a period of political conflict that began in the late 1960s and spanned decades.

There is no official end date to the Troubles, however, the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of April 1998 was a peace agreement which saw an end to widespread violence.

Within the Agreement, reference was made to a Northern Ireland victims’ commission under the ‘Reconciliation and Victims of Violence’ heading.

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Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

“The participants believe that it is essential to acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims of violence as a necessary element of reconciliation. They look forward to the results of the work of the Northern Ireland Victims Commission.”


Victims and Survivors Order

This piece of legislation founded the Commission. It outlined the powers and functions of the office and the circumstances in which an individual could be considered a victim (bereaved, physically injured/psychologically affected or a carer of an individual) as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland.


Commission established

The Commission was founded in 2008 with the appointment of four Commissioners. An amendment to the 2006 Order later condensed this to a single appointment.


Government Strategy

The First Minister and deputy First Minister published a strategy outlining how a range of issues relating to victims and survivors would be taken forward.


Comprehensive Needs Assessment

This was an extensive research report published by the Commission. It identified key areas of need for victims and survivors and shaped the delivery of the first Government Strategy.


Commission today

We continue to work towards resolving some of the most difficult issues that arise in a post-conflict society – from addressing the past and acknowledging the experiences of those affected by the years of violence, to learning from the experiences so that we may not repeat them in the future. Using the portfolio of knowledge and research from over the years, we will work with Government to develop a new strategy.

Latest news

All the latest news from the Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland