“There is a great deal at stake – nothing less than the future itself.”

It’s been mentioned once or twice already during the week but today we have confirmation from the Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain, that Lord Eames and Denis Bradley are to co-chair a consultative group to ask “how Northern Ireland might approach its past in a way that heals rather than poisons, that enables everyone to focus on building a shared future, not looking constantly over shoulders to a divided past.”. Bit late warning about the poison I’d suggest.. And I’m still in agreement with Malachi. And, on that point, one report says that Peter Hain “said he had appointed the two [co-chairs] after consultation with First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness”… Updated below
From Peter Hain’s statement

The Group’s terms of reference are:-

To consult across the community on how Northern Ireland society can best approach the legacy of the events of the past 40 years; and to make recommendations, as appropriate, on any steps that might be taken to support Northern Ireland society in building a shared future that is not overshadowed by the events of the past.

To present a report setting out conclusions to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by summer 2008.

In going about its work, the Consultative Group should consider:

i. the landscape of initiatives that have already been taken by Governments and non-Governmental groups;

ii. work already done – and ongoing – in this area, including consultation exercises;

iii. the resources that would be required to implement any recommendations that it makes.

The Group’s report will be published. Funding will be provided for a secretariat to support its work.

As the group begins work, it may well choose to engage additional advisers to ensure it has access to a wide range of expert advice, both on international issues and on other specialist areas.

And the consultative group..

The group will be co-chaired by Lord Eames, the former Archbishop of Armagh and Denis Bradley, the first vice-chairman of the Policing Board.

The full membership of the Group is Jarlath Burns, former GAA captain of Armagh and GAA analyst, Rev Lesley Carroll, Presbyterian Minister, Willie John McBride, former captain of the British and Irish Lions rugby team, James Mackey, former lecturer in philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast and visiting professor at Trinity College Dublin, Elaine Moore, alcohol and drugs counsellor at Northlands, based at Magilligan Prison and David Porter, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland.

Hmm.. looks like Mr Hain took Simon Jenkins’ advice about the need for an ethicist.. but there are far too many supernaturalists on that panel.

Adds In the Irish Times, Peter Hain explains.. [subs req]

Recent political progress in Northern Ireland should make us pause and ask whether reliving or even refighting the Troubles in the courtroom or the public inquiry or through police investigation is really a healthy way forward.

And whether a focus on identifying issues which happened 30 years ago at a time of terrible conflict is productive for a society which has after May 8th, 2007, resolved that conflict politically.

And whether the hundreds of millions of pounds involved could not be better spent on the future. These are questions I cannot and should not answer as an outsider: only the people of Northern Ireland can decide.

But the questions should be asked. That is why I have decided, having consulted First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, to set up a group to consult widely and suggest how Northern Ireland might approach its past in a way that heals rather than poisons.

The Times also has [an edited version of] that explanation [no subs req]

As I said above

Bit late warning about the poison I’d suggest.. And I’m still in agreement with Malachi.

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  • Yokel

    Why do Jarlath’s & WJ’s names stick out like a pair of sore thumb?

    Seems like tenuous qualifications from both of them to me. There must be more to their bona fides than that. Makes them sound like he should be somewhere else or the rest of the panel should be made of:

    Jackie Fullerton: Local institution, largely based on his crap commentaries and his incident with Giant Haystacks.

    Alan McDonald: Current man in the Glentoran hot seat and useful as an enforcer ‘If anyone thinks this panel is some kind fo fix up they can come and see me’

    Dennis Taylor: a man who can compliment the hardman McDonald with an easy wit and soft tones as honed by his commentaries on snooker.

    Now it may be that Jarlath can play a role from a ground level nationalist community perspective, but Willie John McBride, that well known working class unionist hero?

    They should have Davey Jeffries instead…

  • I have done a very brief search of the nominees without much joy, does any sluggerite know if any of these people have personal experience of violence, either as victims, member of para-military or security forces, judiciary etc?

    As on the surface this looks like a very english stitch up with members of the ‘good and great/ nice middle class people’ being selected to do the ministers bidding. Any word on the coin paid to members of this committee..

    Please tell me if you feel Im being harsh.

  • Pete Baker

    An “english stitch up”, MickH?

    You must have missed the update from Peter Hain in the Irish Times

    “That is why I have decided, having consulted First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, to set up a group to consult widely and suggest how Northern Ireland might approach its past in a way that heals rather than poisons.”

    *Points to Malachi again*

  • reg

    ‘Dennis Taylor: a man who can compliment the hardman McDonald with an easy wit and soft tones as honed by his commentaries on snooker.’

    Dennis would have been a good choice having suffered from threats in the past.

    Alex Higgins once threatened to have taylor shot by the uvf.

  • Briso

    >They should have Davey Jeffries instead…

    David Jeffrey.

  • I Wonder

    I think that Eames and Bradley are an inspired double-act and will work well together.

    Unlike some who profess to be Christian, but pour scorn, hatred and bitterness wherever they go, these two men are truly Christian in spirit and should win the confidence of ALL victims, from whatever background.

  • Pete

    What I meant by English stitch up was the manner in which the English establishment do these type of things. As to McG and Paisley one could hardly find a better example of how the English State brings troublesome fellows into their tent. History is littered with such examples. In truth if one puts aside ones anger and contempt it is masterful as there is one born every minute.

    To understand how this thing works if you get the chance spend some time with someone who has gone to one of the top English Public schools and it will be laid out before you, but in the process never forget, no matter how friendly and complimentary the fellow may appear, at the same time he will be picking your pocket or seducing your wife 😉

  • brandx

    TERMS OF REFFERENCE!

    I THOUGHT Peter Hain said

    ‘THIS WOULD BE A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER’

  • Lorraine

    MickH is right, none of these people have direct experience of the conflict in a personal capacity. by no means should that debar them from membership of the Group, but would the Group not have more bite if former protagonists were on it?

    as for peter hain seeking an approach that heals rather than poisons, the British Government could save millions in costs and help the healing process if it had the balls to turn round and tell the truth, the whole truth about its sordid part in orchestrating the killing of catholics by protestants and protestants by catholics……..

    another multi-million pound white elephant to keep truth hidden?

  • Yokel

    Briso

    Yeah Yeah, I realised as soon as I’d posted it. I;m sure big Davey won’t be too upset as long as you don’t call him Michelin Man…..

    Lorraine

    The people with the most power are the government ad they call the shots.

  • The people with the most power are the government ad they call the shots.

    yokel

    Perhaps but we will hardly change this by acquiescing to every rotten deal they do.

  • Pete Baker

    MickH

    Leaving aside the tiresome class war allusion – and yes I did now what you meant, I was questioning your application of it here – denoting this as an “english stitch up” is disingenuous at best.

    Such an enforced amnesiac deal is beneficial to many who are now in power.

    The suggestion that those who do benefit from that deal are somehow doing so involuntarily, or unknowingly, is just not credible.

  • Dewi

    Are any of the members ex paramilitaries ?

  • Pete,

    I have no understanding of what you mean by “class war allusions'” I was simply pointing out the fact that the English State reflects the slimy political attitude and prejudices of those who built it and maintained it over the last x hundred years, just as the Free State does or come to that any independent state on earth.

    Indeed, far from suggesting those northern minnows who have benefited by the said deal did so unknowingly or involuntary, I pointed out the opposite, with a hint at just how they were enticed by UK state power. Never the less, even so the main beneficiaries of this is still the government in London

    You may wish to believe that class plays no role in politics thus life, but it does not make it so; and to suggest that the likes of Paisley and McG are producing this little pantomime is infantile.

    See we can both play at grumpy old men 😉

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    No understanding? Somehow I doubt that. I hope I’m right.

    “Never the less, even so the main beneficiaries of this is still the government in London”

    The government currently in London were not active players over the past 30 years while some of those now in Stormont were – and seek to continue to be so.

    “and to suggest that the likes of Paisley and McG are producing this little pantomime is infantile.”

    And where did I suggest that? What I said was that they were willing participants – in contrast to your suggestion that they were ‘enticed’ into a deal in which they were somehow the lesser beneficiaries.

    Those party to the amnesiacs deal are all aware of their own particular benefit from it – Some more personally than others.

    No smilies.

  • “Those party to the amnesiacs deal are all aware of their own particular benefit from it – Some more personally than others.”

    Pete

    As the saying goes, “never was a truer word spoken”.

    Regard

    Mick

  • Dewi

    Seeing Willie John Mcbride’s name there brings back some fond memories…but what happened to Mike Gibson, a wonderful player. He never seems to be on the tele – what’s he doing with himself ?

  • Sam Flanagan

    The consultative group should only consist of 2 people Gordon Kerr and Margaret Walshaw. It is a pity there is not one honest journalist in N.Ireland.