Members of the Victims and Survivors Forum and the panel met to formally discuss the current iteration of the draft Programme for Government (PfG) on the 9th December 2016 in Belfast.
The following are their observations and recommendations which must be given serious consideration by the NI Executive.
In the first instance, they want to put on record their outrage and disappointment that dealing with the legacy of the Troubles has now been totally omitted from the current consultation document.
Research conducted on behalf of the Commission for Victims and Survivors demonstrates that more than one third of the population of Northern Ireland has been directly affected by the conflict and while in previous iterations of the consultation document, Victims were included merely as a sub-group of society, they are adamant that this current omission is iniquitous and for this document to completely ignore their specific needs is unacceptable.
The Troubles have impacted on the whole of our society and continues to have an on-going transgenerational impact.
For that reason, they believe that a specific and holistic approach to the needs of Victims and Survivors is required by society as a whole and must have a discrete section in the future PfG.
The Legacy of the conflict has impacted on all of society, not just those who were bereaved, injured or those who care for them. Their assertion is that you cannot build a peaceful and prosperous society and economy without acknowledging that impact.
The absence of a volume of consultation responses should not be interpreted as an acceptable rationale for ignoring victims or failing to deliver a legacy specific outcome.
What happened in our society cannot be accepted as a ‘norm’. Human rights violations, death and the legacy impact should never be ignored.
They also take exception to assertions that victims and survivors are divided in their need to address the legacy of the past. Victims are a diverse body of people and their views reflect that diversity – that does not mean that they are divided.
They have specifically asked through the Commission for Victims and Survivors consultation response that the following are detailed as specific deliverables in the final Programme for Government.
The Consultation period will end at Friday 23rd December 2016 @ 5pm and both the Victims and Survivors Forum and panel members urge all victims to submit a response to evidence the importance of dealing with the past and the many and complex needs of victims and survivors.
Responses can be emailed to PfG@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk