A delegation of the Victims and Survivors Forum met with the DUP party leader, Arlene Foster MLA, Michelle McIlveen MLA, Peter Weir MLA and Gordon Lyons MLA at Stormont today, as part of a programme of meetings with the largest parties in the coming weeks.
The Forum want to seek assurances from all the parties that they are committed to addressing the legacy of the past and to ensure that any political barriers to delivery are addressed.
They have been absolutely explicit that legislation on implementing the legacy institutions cannot be deferred any longer.
The Secretary of State advised the Forum that a consultation on the Historical Investigations Unit, the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval and an Oral History Archive will be launched in late autumn but that his preference was for the NI Executive to be in place.
At the meeting today, Arlene Foster said she had no objections to the consultation process taking place as soon as possible and agreed with the Forum Members that the legislative consultation must be accessible to all of civic society and in particular to victims and survivors who have not felt able to come forward to date. .
Members commented after the engagement,
“Mrs Foster and her colleagues were clearly across the detail of issues that affect victims and survivors and the impact of the conflict on our society to this day. We had a candid discussion about the difficulties on delivering the Stormont House Agreement. However, through working together we believe these difficulties can be overcome”.
“The DUP party leader recognised that our membership is diverse but united in seeking delivery of the mechanisms and we offered our support and encouragement to the DUP and all politicians to get legacy issues finally addressed”.
Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson concluded, “Victims and survivors will not be the only beneficiaries of delivering mechanisms that will give us access to truth, justice, and acknowledgement or redress the harm caused. We need to focus on building a society that we all want to live in and invest in and we can only achieve that by addressing the legacy of the past”.