Stephen Farry stated: “It was the correct decision to hold a specific inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday given the particular issues it raised for the state. But it could only ever be a targeted investigation of one aspect of Northern Ireland’s troubled history.
“Alliance does not believe that it is wise or sustainable to simply draw a line under the past. There is so much hurt and people continue to search for truth and justice. Not least given the scale and the cost of the Saville Inquiry, it is not possible to address all of these needs through inquiries.
“In the wake of Saville, there is now a renewed appreciation of the need to address these legacy issues. This should encourage the governments and the Northern Ireland parties, along with civic society to revisit how to devise a comprehensive process that can address these complex needs. Furthermore, this must be conducted in a manner that promotes reconciliation and which is consistent with a shared future.
“We broadly endorsed the recommendations of the Consultative Group on the Past. While not uncritical of aspects of the report, such as the proposed ‘recognition payments’, we recognised that it is a credible basis on which to build.
“No-one should under-estimate the practical difficulties in finding agreement on the shape of such a process nor the practical obstacles that would surround attempts at truth recovery in particular. Nevertheless, the process of transitional justice has been a core element of many conflict resolution processes around the world. Northern Ireland has at best only had a piecemeal approach, and has missed opportunities to have done more in terms of the healing process.
“Alliance greatly respects the role played by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET). However, it plays a discrete role in terms of individual case investigation and truth recovery where possible. The Eames/Bradley process set out the broader needs of reconciliation, investigation, information recovery and thematic exploration.
“The British Government has ruled out any more extensive inquiries. They have ruled out what they do not want to do. However, they have yet to set out a policy on what they will do.
“I welcome the contribution of former Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, in calling for them to do so. However, only weeks ago, when the last Government was still in charge there was this same vacuum of a strategy for dealing with the past.
“It will be more cost effective to address the past in a comprehensive and integrated manner than it would be to attempt to do so in a piecemeal way. The lessons from elsewhere are that a society cannot simply sweep its past under the carpet. There is a critical need for this government to explain what it intends to do.”