Much as everyone in Northern Ireland might aspire to ‘draw a line’ under the past and ‘move on’, the experience of the years since the ceasefires and the Agreement tells us that this is an unrealistic expectation.
It reflects the reality that life is no blank sheet but draws on the past and contributes to our future. Many current issues therefore are rooted in baggage from the past as well as the need in some cases to seek ‘truth and justice’. Furthermore, it is impossible to quantify the long-term psychological and emotional impact on individuals and society.
Interventions cannot wait for political stalemates to be overcome, especially as the past is clearly inhibiting attempts to transform NI into a peaceful, democratic society. Conference therefore calls on the two governments to set up a task force to produce a coherent framework guiding a wide-ranging process of reconciliation.