Stewart Dickson MLA said: “We need to establish a process to allow us to examine very deep, hurtful and painful issues that many, if not all of us, have had visited upon us – whether it was through the death of a loved one, an attack on our property, or the impact of an event on an entire community.
“So I am disappointed that the Assembly could not support the Alliance amendment that called for this issue to be dealt with, instead parties resorted to the old orange and green politics that does not move us forward. Even the SDLP could not support it which I was very saddened by.
“Dealing with Northern Ireland’s past, and its legacy, is a difficult and complicated issue as there remains much individual and collective hurt in our society, particularly among those who have suffered directly as a result of violence and conflict.
“Very few would deny that the Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland, and apologies from the British Government in relation to Bloody Sunday and Claudy, have improved relations.
“However, progress in high politics does not always filter down into the grassroots of society, and the reality is that division and segregation is a norm in many parts of Northern Ireland today.
“One only has to reflect upon the events of recent weeks to know this is true. We are a society infected by sectarianism and its outputs.
“It is clear therefore, that the legacy of the Troubles must be addressed in a way that transforms our society from one characterised by division, to one characterised by a desire for true and lasting reconciliation.
“Failure to breach the divide will lead to a continuing divided and wasted future for many of our people, particularly those on low incomes and those losing their jobs, which is where the first priority of this house should be.
“It is now over ten months since the Assembly called on the previous Secretary of State to convene cross-party talks, and it is over three years since the publication of Eames-Bradley, and there has been no progress towards the establishment of a reconciliation process. I would urge the new Secretary of State to listen to the will of the public who want this issue dealt with in an appropriate respectful manner.”