This week, Northern Ireland’s Victims’ Commissioner presented to the Irish government on her recent Legacy advice on the 2018 Legacy Consultation proposals in the context of ongoing Brexit negotiations and the implementation of the PEACE IV Programme.
Presenting yesterday afternoon at Leinster House, Judith Thompson states that whilst in the twenty one years since the Belfast Agreement there have been a number of attempts to address the harm that was caused during decades of conflict, none of these have so far resulted in the passing of the legislation to deliver truth, justice, acknowledgement and reparation for victims and survivors.
“The fact is that bereaved families who wish to access judicial processes come from every part of society and from across the United Kingdom, Ireland and beyond. At present those families are told that they must wait decades before a case can be progressed, if at all.
“When talking to people affected by the conflict across these islands, it is clear that their experiences and needs are very much the same. In the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, my remit allows me to advise the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at Westminster on how best to address issues affecting victims and survivors, however it would be a huge disservice to those I have engaged with in the Republic of Ireland to not represent their views too.
“It is for exactly that reason that my recent Legacy advice paper provides comments for consideration by the Irish Government on how to address the Legacy of the Troubles in an inclusive and equitable manner.
Among the recommendations for Ireland in the Commission’s advice paper are that a mechanism parallel to the proposed Historical Investigations Unit for Northern Ireland is established to carry out investigations in the Republic, that legislation and processes allowing effective information sharing for Legacy Inquests are established, and critically that transparent processes and a robust appeals system are in place around national security to help build trust with families.
“Dealing with’ the legacy of the past cannot be achieved by measures which fail to fully address the many complex and difficult issues, and that needs to be for all who have suffered – not just those within the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.”