The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has published its report on the Consultative Group on the Past in NI’s report. There’s a BBC report and an Irish Times report on it. Brief report highlights here and the full report is available here. From the report’s conclusions and recommendations
19. We believe that the proposed mechanisms for truth recovery and thematic investigation do not represent viable courses of action with which families, victims and paramilitaries will engage. In treading carefully, the Consultative Group appears to attempt to reconcile two mutually inconsistent positions. Despite the Group’s intentions, the proposals, if enacted as proposed, might well in effect constitute a de facto “amnesty”. Yet, at the same time, they might not provide sufficient assurance to those who might engage in truth recovery. (Paragraph 113)
20. Truth recovery could work effectively only if there were open and honest engagement by those involved in past events. It may be that such engagement would be achieved only if those who participated in such events, from whatever section of the community they may come, were guaranteed some amnesty in return for their openness and honesty. This would be an exceedingly high price to pay, and we are not convinced that either Northern Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom is ready at present to contemplate such a step. We believe that the Consultative Group’s proposals in this respect are likely to prove unworkable. The proposed system also raises complex issues in relation to legal process and human rights. We recommend, therefore, that no additional processes of truth recovery or thematic investigation should be undertaken at present by any newly formed Legacy Commission. (Paragraph 114)
And if the Group’s proposals “in effect constitute a de facto ‘amnesty'”, what do the current arrangements constitute? Despite the praise for the Historical Enquiries Team how many cases have been brought to court?Going back to the proposed Legacy Commission, as I said on the NI Secretary of State’s consultation on the report
And it’s worth repeating what the co-chairman of the Consultative Group, Denis Bradley, told the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
“The only door that has been closed is that of the IRA,” Mr Bradley told the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, in Leinster House. Addressing TDs and MEPs, he added: “I think it is going to be a disgrace if the IRA stand offside.” The former vice-chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board made a direct plea for co-operation from the terror group. “I would appeal to the IRA,” he said. “I know how difficult this will be because many people who were involved in the IRA want to get on with their lives and that is understandable. “But ways must be found if any truth process is to take place in a comprehensive way.”
The lack of compulsion has been acknowleged by both chairmen.