Victims groups call for an international commission…

Colm Heatley’s line on difficulty of accessing the truth of the past looks like it could have been written in response to our latest Derry/Londonderry thread:

Uncovering the truth is a central issue to building a civil society and giving the North’s citizens – and indeed many in the Republic – confidence that at least part of the past has been addressed. But, so far, the truth has proved elusive – obstructed, many believe, by a desire to keep the past buried. The response has, to date, been disorganised and drawn-out.

In fact, he has in mind the manifest failure of the official Inquiry mechanism to deliver anything useful in throwing light on the past:

The most high-profile tribunal, the Saville Inquiry, has spent most of the past seven years looking at the events of Bloody Sunday, and has cost an estimated stg£200 million to date. Yet, so far, it has reported nothing back, in what most people regard as an open-and-shut case.

While most of the outstanding issues that bedevilled the peace process have been resolved, the issue of collusion between the state and armed groups means that any truth commission would likely prove politically embarrassing to the government of Britain – and possible, of Ireland.

He picks up on a meeting of victims groups in Belfast last week, including the Pat Finucane Centre and Relatives for Justice, which focus primarily on individual cases of injustice against nationalist victims:

‘‘What we need is an independent, international commission with the power to investigate and look at the killings which took place,” said Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre. ‘‘That would allow questions to be asked that currently just aren’t being asked, and it would do it in a joined-up way, which hasn’t happened so far.”

For some people, however, the idea of a truth commission raises the possibility that those responsible for murder, especially the state, will escape any punishment and get off the hook.

‘‘Let’s be honest, no one is on the hook, certainly not the British government, so I don’t think opinions can be made based too closely on that,” said O’Connor. ‘‘I think that it is very clear that we need some sort of public forum to be established whereby all of this can be addressed clearly.”

Heatly closes:

In an era in the North’s politics when armed groups and political parties are being urged to face up to the future, few issues will signal progress more than getting to the truth of the Troubles.

But that depends entirely on political will. And given, the Enquiries Act 2005 has cut off the Saville route, and the curbing of powers for the Police Ombudsman allows only for partial disclosure of its work, not to mention various noises off about the slicing of budgets, the signs of that happening in any way other than a haphazard, “disorganised and drawn-out” way seem remote.

The poison, it would seem, will remain trapped within the system. As such, it is hard to see this suggestion has much chance of fulfilment, in the short or long term.

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  • Shore Road Resident

    It’ll be a particularly desperate day in hell before anyone takes a lecture on truth from the Business Post.

    This paper’s conduct during the Scappaticci affair alone was enough to rule it right out of any serious debate on the subject. The SBP spent months viciously smearing the journalists who uncovered the story, because although it greatly embarrassed the British government it also greatly embarrassed the Shinners, and what’s the point of getting to the truth of the murder of 40 republicans if you have to do that?
    [text removed – play the ball! – moderator]

  • Dewi
  • Briso

    Mick wrote:
    In fact, he has in mind the manifest failure of the official Inquiry mechanism to deliver anything useful in throwing light on the past:

    The most high-profile tribunal, the Saville Inquiry, has spent most of the past seven years looking at the events of Bloody Sunday, and has cost an estimated stg£200 million to date. Yet, so far, it has reported nothing back, in what most people regard as an open-and-shut case.

    I think this misses the point. The Saville Inquiry has already delivered the most important thing, an exposure of the events of that day and what surrounded them. It was (and is) an awesome piece of work. Personally, I think Saville’s own opinion of the evidence painstakingly placed in the public domain will be as relevant as that of Hutton. I don’t care if it is never published and for once, I’m sure the British Government agree with me.

  • heck

    SRR

    to quote ronald reagan “there you go again”. What was that rant about? What are you unionists afraid of-the truth?

    I’m now waiting for a series of unionist bloggers to come on this site and say they don’t want all the truth out because it might embarass some senior republicans!! like that is the real reason!!

    let’s get all the truth out. If the brits are embarassed -good. If the shinners are embarassed –good. If the irish government are embarassed -then so be it.

  • Mick Hall

    “But that depends entirely on political will’

    No Mick you are completely wrong here as to was my Friend Anthony McIntrye who said much the same in a recent piece in the Blanket. True there is no political will at this time, but so what. When have politicians ever liked the truth being told when it comes to the murky world of the security services they themselves should have been overseeing. It is the responsibility of all democrats to force the politicians to act on this by bringing public pressure to bear.

    Politicians will only act on matters such as this when civil society puts enough pressure on them to do so. It has taken decades for Argentinean politicians to look at the dirty war committed by the Generals Junta. But get there in the end they did.

    Please Mick stop throwing your hands in the air with a nothing can be done attitude. The British State colluded in criminality in the north because people like you and I paid our tax pounds and allowed them to. Join the campaign to demand an international commission to look at all aspects of the ‘long war’. If you are unable to do so, then stop muddying the waters for those like the PFC who are attempting to bring the commission into being.

    As Tito said to Stalin during WW2, if you are unwilling to help us then at least stop hindering us. Or do you feel it is perfectly OK for a democratically elected government and their agencies to collude in criminality up to and including murder.

  • Rory

    “Personally, I think Saville’s own opinion of the evidence painstakingly placed in the public domain will be as relevant as that of Hutton.”

    Oh God! no, Briso. That is exactly the worst scenario that everyone fears that Saville should demean his integrity as Hutton has done by bending over backwards in order to avoid any awkward emabarrasment for the government. I certainly don’t recall that Hutton’s report gave any satisfactory answer that truth had been uncovered and episodes like the soft ride given to the prevaricating chief Blairite propagandist, Alistair Campbell was an absolute disgrace.

  • Dewi

    For 400 million quid I’d like to get something to read.

  • heck

    dewi

    The government set up an inquiry that cost 400 million quid so you won’t have something to read and to have a reason not to have anymore inquiries!!

  • Dewi

    Maybe heck – but I would still like a report.

  • joeCanuck

    I wonder how many new millionaires resulted.

  • páid

    Ah,

    so people want the truth, do they?

    Firstly, they should satisfy themselves about what they mean by “truth”.
    They can start here…… http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/truth.htm

    Then they can debate whether it’s pursuit will do us any good.

  • Aquifer

    We want the truth! we want the truth!
    er but not that one, and not the one that would put him in clink either.

    What laws are adolescent revolutionaries bound by?

    A law of silence first off. That’s truth gone.

    They chose to let the guns do the talking, and they never made much sense, so why listen to a replay?

    Unless someone want to stick on new subtitles?

  • IJP

    But, so far, the truth has proved elusive – obstructed, many believe, by a desire to keep the past buried.

    It’s simpler still.

    We all have a desire to be the victims of suffering, but never the agent.

    Listen to anyone in NI discuss the conflict, and it’s as if it’s “something that happened to us” (whoever is meant by “us”), as if we had nothing to do with causing it.

    Only once we get to the causes – all the causes – will we get anywhere near the truth.

    Oh, and by the way, many of those who suffered are citizens neither of “the North” nor of “the Republic”.

  • Let’s face it folks, the Brits are never going to agree to any meaningful inquiries into its totally unnecessary killings of The Troubles, especially those ‘Steak knife’ helped arrange, as this link about Orde’s feelings clearly demonstrates:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,,2161951,00.html

    Notice how Orde is afraid that the PSNI will be no better in containing Islamic terrorism than the RUC was in dealing with nationalist complaints about the old Stormont. Apparently, no one can teach old coppers new tricks.

    Also, note how a TRC is still on the table until, it seems, it is taken seriously by the British government. Then the Brits will apparently concoct some complaint about it.

    Furthermore, the Chief Constable seems to indicate that retired RUC officers did in Denis Donaldson to make sure there were no serious inquiries into their terrorism.

    Is Britain ever going to move out of the shadows of a rogue, terrorist state, and start behaving like a responsible, modern one? All indications are in the negative.

  • Pete Baker

    “Furthermore, the Chief Constable seems to indicate that retired RUC officers did in Denis Donaldson to make sure there were no serious inquiries into their terrorism.”

    Trow

    Orde does nothing of the sort. The actual quotes from Orde in the article don’t mention Donaldson at all.

    The reference to Donaldson is made by the journalists – after writing about Orde being concerned about informers being killed if their identities are made public. Guess again about where the threat to those informers comes from.

    Btw The article is noted on Slugger here.

  • Manny

    “Let’s face it folks, the Brits are never going to agree to any meaningful inquiries into its totally unnecessary killings of The Troubles”

    Trowbridge – quite right. They will never allow inquiries into things like the La Mon House bombing or the Shankill Fish Shop bombing.

  • Thanks, Manny. I’m for inquiring into all the dirty collusion operations the Brits helped orchestrate, no matter on which side of the sectarian divide they occurred, since they just stoked up The Troubles.

    No thanks, Peter Baker. The example of informers being shot – i. e., Denis Donaldson – was certainly provided by Orde, as no reporter, certainly not Bowcott, would volunteer his name. And Orde only volunteered his fate to keep us claiming the Provos did it when it was clearly in the interest of the PSNI to despatch him, as the Chief Constable clearly demonstrates by his whole interview.

    This is how the Brits always control their dirty history.