Continuing their round of engagements on the proposed Legacy Legislation, the Victims and Survivors Forum led by the Commissioner met with the Labour Party Shadow Secretary of State Louise Haigh MP and Karin Smyth MP, Shadow Minister of State and member of the NI Affairs Committee.
At the meeting Louise Haigh said:
“It was a privilege to meet with and hear the powerful contributions of the victims and survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Their voice must be heard when decisions are being made in Westminster.”
Despite the Commissioner’s call last month for more detailed proposals from the Secretary of State, there has still been no clarification on the proposed legislation. The Forum took this opportunity to question the Shadow Secretary of State for NI on the Labour party’s position.
She acknowledged that there was no further detail available to the Shadow team but said “The government’s recent approach has caused real concern. As Shadow Secretary of State I am determined that victims must not be overlooked and they must be at the heart of dealing with the past.”
Speaking after the meeting the Commissioner, Judith Thompson reiterated how important it was that the voices of Victims and Survivors were heard.
“Their concerns are multiplied by the fact that they are getting older, they are often infirm and are particularly impacted by this pandemic. They are afraid that they may never know what happened to their loved ones.
“The current emergency management of the Covid-19 pandemic is understandably taking priority in Government thinking but we are taking this opportunity to reinforce with parliamentary representatives the danger that Legislation which will not deliver for victims and survivors could be passed through Parliament whilst people are distracted by the crisis. We want this Legislation to be right, not rushed.
“As the Commission advised in our submission to Government, the combined impact of any final package of measures should be to offer what is achievable in terms of truth, justice, acknowledgement and reparation to people who were harmed and to do this in a way that is victim-centred and respectful of all those who were harmed.”