“There will be no amnesty recommended in our report.”

Is there still time for lessons from elsewhere? Co-chairman of the Consultative Group on the Past, Denis Bradley, has been speaking at Queen’s University on the speculation about what the group’s recommendations will be.

Consultative Group on the Past co-chairman Denis Bradley said: “People have said to us, ‘why not just draw a line in the sand?’ “But that would mean no more prosecutions and that is the same as introducing a general amnesty. “Let me state in the clearest terms possible. There will be no amnesty recommended in our report.”

Adds Will Crawley is chairing the conference at Queen’s [and live-blogging it] and he notes the comments of Brendan McAllister, one of Northern Ireland’s four Commissioners for Victims and Survivors, “the commissioners will study the Bradley-Eames report in the new year before making their own independent recommendations to the government.” It had been suggested that Sinn Féin and the DUP intended to rely on their four Victims Commissioners to deal with those poisonous foundations.Except that what detail there is suggests that a more specific, rather than general, amnesty will be on offer.

It is expected to call for the establishment of an independent commission for a five-year period to take over the role of re-examining all killings during the Troubles, something currently carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team. The commission would also investigate controversial killings where there are allegations of collusion with the security forces – a role currently undertaken by the Police Ombudsman. In cases where there is no possibility of a prosecution, the commission would ask the families of victims if they want to know details about what happened.

If the families agree, the commission would then call on those responsible – whether it was paramilitary organisations, the police or army – to come forward and provide details. There would not be a general amnesty – but those who agree to meet the commission would be given immunity for the information they provide, meaning it could not be used for prosecutions.

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  • Brian Walker

    It’s an empty distinction I fear, between the present de facto reality and an an official amnesty.
    Eames/Bradley will therefore build in a a basic flaw of disingenuousness in any new system.

  • Pete Baker

    I agree on the empty distinction point, Brian.

    There’s an update to the post too. It seems the Sinn Féin/DUP appointed Commissioners will submit their own ideas on dealing with the past..

  • Turgon

    Pete,
    One of the most interesting questions is what is to happen if a given family do not agree to what is clearly an amnesty? I suspect the case will then be ignored and not perused any further.

    As such an utterly dreadful Hobson’s choice will face the family: to accept that they themselves being are effectively forced to give amnesty to the murderers of their loved ones in exchange for information. If they fail to accept this charade, they have no chance of getting any answers.

    To force the families into such is simply the latest moral perversity from Eames Bradley. As I have said repeatedly: if they had any moral or intellectual courage they would have recognised how utterly misguided their whole commission was and is. However, I come back to my contention that they are playing the game as they have been asked to by their political masters and are enjoying their limelight.

  • Brian Walker

    I’m don’t believe for a moment that either man needs much limelight Turgon, or has ” a political master.” It’s a pity you should cast the usual aspersions, quite implausibly in this case. I’ve already recorded my view of the basic flaw, the perpetuation of the myth of the possibility meaningful fresh trials. But I give them credit for believing that they ought not to prejudge actual cases and I accept their total integrity.If you can’t accept these two’s good faith, whose can you accept? They surely should have declined to raise the amnesty issue at all it and left it to the HET and ultimately to their commission to deal with, as the results of the proposed five year exercise gradually emerge. It is possible to sentimentalise genuine victimhood and this is what they seem to have done. That will do no service to the victims who in the hearts probably know the score better than most of us.