Alliance disappointed with Commons Report on Dealing with the Past

Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Dr Stephen Farry MLA, has expressed disappointment with the report from the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee which has been published today. He regards it as a missed opportunity to show leadership in overcoming the current impasse.

Stephen Farry MLA stated: “This is a somewhat disappointing and short-sighted report from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. It begs the question how in touch is the committee is with the realities of what is required to provide an effective process to provide healing and promote reconciliation?

“Northern Ireland would benefit from having an overarching approach to dealing with the past that promotes a shared future. The Eames-Bradley proposals, while far from perfect, at least provide a foundation on which to build. The parameters in which any Legacy Commission could operate are curtailed by local circumstances. There are no guarantees of success, but it may be our last, best hope to address these important, complex and multi-faceted issues in a comprehensive manner.

“The lessons from around the world show clearly that it’s not possible to sweep the past under the carpet. Even where attempts are made to forget, tensions still remain and the hunger for truth or justice persists. I alarmed at some quarters in UK politics that simply believe that Northern Ireland can officially be declared a normal society and be asked to move on. Alliance deeply wants Northern Ireland to be normalised, but we appreciate what needs to be done. There cannot be any short-cut in the process.

“It is a major misconception to dismiss some overarching Legacy Commission as being either unwieldy or costly, or that we can somehow muddle through with the current arrangements. The present status quo is itself unsustainable. Demands for truth and justice are not being met, and the current public inquiries are selective, slow and expensive, with the Bloody Sunday Inquiry the most egregious example. While bodies such as the Historical Enquiries Team are doing very good work, it is within a limited context. There is a need for an overarching framework.

“Rather than take the opportunity to offer some fresh thinking and provide leadership to overcome the considerable political differences on the way forward, the NI Affairs Committee has essentially accepted the status quo and used political differences as a rationale for inaction.”


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