Alliance publishes submission on Dealing with the Past

The Alliance Party has published its response to the NIO’s consultation on the recommendations of the report from the Consultative Group on the Past. The Party has called on the Government to proceed on the basis of the Legacy Commission and to guarantee the long-term future of the Historical Enquiries Team as part of the Legacy Commission architecture. Responses to the consultation have to be submitted tomorrow at the latest.

Speaking on the response, Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Dr Stephen Farry MLA stated:

“Alliance does not believe that it is wise or sustainable to simply draw a line under the past. There is too much hurt and too many demands for truth and justice. This or any future government would be making a big mistake in seeking to do this. Alliance maintains however that we must deal with our past in a manner that promotes reconciliation and which is consistent with a shared future.

“The controversies surrounding the £12K recognition payment have shadowed the real value that does lie within the report of the Consultative Group on the Past. While we are not uncritical of particular aspects of the report, we believe that it is a credible platform on which to build. We do endorse the central recommendation for a legacy commission with four separate elements, namely: reconciliation; investigations; information recovery; and thematic issues.

“We believe that more work needs to be carried out to ensure that any new institutions respect the existing good practice, including from for example the Historical Enquiries Team and the Community Relations Council. There also has to be a credible timescale and funding package. While we are realistic about the prospects for success of any Commission, it is worth pursuing.

“There is unlikely to be an immediate opportunity for legislation, but Alliance believes that the Government can take a number of steps. These include setting out the way forward. Alliance is opposed to any amnesty, irrespective of whether such calls are motivated to wipe the slate clean for paramilitaries or to protect the state, and that this must be ruled out to build confidence. We recognise that the HET is currently conducting investigations and providing a degree of information recovery. It can be regarded as providing the investigation arm of the Legacy Commission architecture, and we would look to the Government to guarantee its long-term future at this stage.”


Notes to Editors:

Alliance believes that the following steps can be taken in the near future by the British Government:

Ø Give a broad endorsement of the outcome of the Consultative Group on the Past;

Ø Stress that the Legacy Commission will be at the centre of future structures;

Ø Clarify that the Historical Enquiries Team can fulfil the investigate function under the Legacy Commission and guarantee its long-term funding and future, including absorbing the pre-1998 investigative responsibilities from the Police Ombudsman;

Ø Rule out any amnesty;

Ø Recognise that five years is too short a time span in which to expect the work of the Legacy Commission to be completed;

Ø Create an Oversight Commissioner for the various measures of dealing with the past, following the successful application of this model in other aspects of the peace process; and

Ø Emphasise that the Irish Government is a joint partner on the way forward

For full response see link below

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