The proper architecture?

The Policing Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchison talked of the need “to find the proper architecture to deal with the past, and learn from it” in his final report last week, and in an Irish Times interview today Kit Chivers, the criminal justice inspector for Northern Ireland, has indicated his preferred architecture [subs req]

Mr Chivers particularly favours one of five proposals by the Healing Through Remembering group: British security services and paramilitaries – without fear of prosecution – and victims would separately report to a central body, which would draw the information together and report in the hope of achieving a form of truth and bringing some satisfaction and comfort to the victims.

From the Irish Times

The fact that he is from across the water allows him a dispassionate approach to difficult matters, which is useful. He has enjoyed his period in Northern Ireland but is constantly struck by how the past intrudes and impedes the present in many sensitive areas.

He says that while “every reasonable person recognises there are huge amounts of unresolved pain out there” there is no doubt, that as Sir Hugh Orde often says, “the past is a burden on the criminal justice system”.

Getting the balance right is the challenge, he says. That means establishing a system which allows criminal justice work in the present, is reasonably cost-effective, and works to the satisfaction of everyone, particularly victims.

Mr Chivers particularly favours one of five proposals by the Healing Through Remembering group: British security services and paramilitaries – without fear of prosecution – and victims would separately report to a central body, which would draw the information together and report in the hope of achieving a form of truth and bringing some satisfaction and comfort to the victims.

“Dreadful things have happened in these sectors [security forces and paramilitaries],” he says. “There are bad people but not everyone involved in the Troubles are necessarily bad people in any of the sectors.

“A lot were people who were doing what they saw as their duty at the time,” he adds, not uncontroversially.

“We have got to see it from the point of view of the actors at the time, to see what were their loyalties, what were their motivations. We are all irrevocably now committed to peace and reconciliation.”

My own view is that there should be a fear of prosecution.. at the very least if those involved are less than forthcoming.

And, as I’ve mentioned before.. “Delay has its own heavy price. The poison accumulates in the system.”

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