Sinn Féin refused to attend the announcement of an interim report by the Consultative Group on the Past in Belfast today – the full report is expected in the summer. The BBC report picks up on Co-Chairman Lord Eames’ comments, “We cannot ignore that, in fact, the state sometimes acted illegally. If we are to move out of the past in a healthy way then the state itself needs to acknowledge its full and complex role in the last 40 years.” and Co-Chairman Denis Bradley’s, “The scale of the use of informers throughout the conflict corroded the fabric of our communities and the constant pressure now exerted for information about informers to be revealed only serves to further undermine the well being of communities to a degree that could be poisonous. Would the republican community like to have to tell an ageing mother that her martyred son was actually an informer? That is what full disclosure could mean.” Of more concern might be those who are still alive.. We already know what the Police Ombudsman thinks about “drawing a line under the past..” And it’s been suggested that Sinn Féin and the DUP intend to rely on their four Victims Commissioners to deal with those poisonous foundations. Adds Full text of the speech here.
And from the Consultative Group’s press release
Denis Bradley said, “Many people have put their faith in the Criminal Justice system delivering for them. Even while knowing people would only serve a maximum of two years under the early release scheme, it was important for them that justice was seen to be done. We sympathize with this desire for justice.
“However it is difficult for us not to listen to those experts who are telling us that the reality is that as each day passes securing justice becomes less and less likely. In many historic cases witnesses have died, exhibits are no longer credible or have disintegrated over time. This is the reality of the situation.”
In his closing remarks Denis Bradley said, “As a group we are committed to addressing the legacy of the past in a way that will promote a greater goal of reconciliation within and between our people. We recognise that reconciliation remains an elusive and contested concept.
“For some of us this will mean being reconciled to the fact that our future is together, that we do share the land and its resources and a common sense of belonging to this place.
“For all of us it will mean bringing a new measure of common purpose reflected in greater cohesion, sharing and integration in our communities. We have no choice. There is no better future without a shared future; there is no shared future without reconciliation.”
Time then to undermine those old certainties..
Adds The full text of the speech addresses a wide range of groups and organisations but this, in particular, stood out.
In all our consultations it is unclear if Republicans truly appreciate the depth of hurt that exists in the Unionist community.
Republicans claimed they were targeting State forces in the guise of RUC/UDR members. Unionist communities, particularly in rural border areas, saw such tactics as deliberately killing fathers and eldest, or only, sons to drive Protestants from their homes and land. We have heard many stories from these communities who describe their experiences in this way – as at best raw sectarianism and at worst ethnic cleansing.
They believe Republicans have not come to fully understand the hurt that still exists and they need to acknowledge and appreciate the damage they did to the prospect of reconciliation between our two communities.
Indeed if the aim of the Republican struggle was to unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, the brutal logic of their violence undermined this aim. The reality of the depth of division that has been caused between neighbours – who now need to share the future, needs to be acknowledged. Regardless of the uniform, the cause, countrymen killed fellow countrymen. While we realize Republicans have embarked on a process to address some of these issues we believe more needs to be done – apologizing to non-combatants just isn’t good enough.