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.