Judith Cochrane MLA said: “This issue has now become much broader than the words on paper or the direct consequences of the legislation.
“It has become a focal point for highlighting the frustrations at the lack of recognition of the place and needs of victims within our peace process, 15 years from Good Friday Agreement. We are continuing to address the past in a piecemeal manner when instead we need a comprehensive process for dealing with the past.
“So until we reach that point, we will have to make calls on individual matters that come before us. The challenge is to ensure that what we do is not fundamentally against the spirit and letter of where this society has evolved over the past decade. And I do not believe voting for this Bill goes against this.
“We support the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements but the Agreements themselves do not solve our problems. They were a basis to work from. As we endeavor to move away from our dark past and seek to build a brighter future for Northern Ireland, we will be faced with many issues that have the potential to cause hurt and pain, and legislation will not always be the answer.
“However, a degree of political maturity and mutual respect is also required if we are to truly move this society forward. Political Parties must consider how their actions are perceived by others including by victims. Perhaps if this had been the case, there would never have been a need for this Bill to come forward.
“We are no closer to dealing with the past in a comprehensive way. Until we agree a mechanism to do this, our political system will continue to struggle with a win-lose approach around a succession of individual aspects of the past.
“I hope that today’s debate becomes a watershed and that parties genuinely start to move to creating that process.”