Consultative Group’s ‘expected’ recommendations

The Eames/Bardley co-chaired Consultative Group on the Past isn’t due to publish its report until next week but those anonymous sources are at it again. BBC NI’s Vincent Kearney reports the leaked details but at UTV Ken Reid has itemised the ‘expected recommendations’ [see below the fold]. Anyone expecting a focus on the societal glue of justice was always likely to be disappointed. I did suggest there were too many supernaturalists involved.. And so much for taking the bull by the horns. But perhaps “our new democratic institutions aren’t strong enough to withstand the truth” after all.. Adds DUP leader Peter Robinson’s response – “This process has been a waste of time.” [Bring on the 4 horsemen victims commissioners? – Ed]. Update Further BBC report. And The Irish Times.

• The next of kin of each person killed in the Troubles will receive a “Recognition Payment” of £12,000, a figure based on a similar scheme that operated in the Republic of Ireland.

• A Legacy Commission chaired by an international figure, with two vice chairs, would run for five years at a cost of £160m.

• The Commission would continue investigations into murders from the Troubles with a view to securing prosecutions, replacing the historic cases work carried out by the Police Ombudsman and the police Historic Inquiries Team (HET), the closing down of which would save an estimated £100m.

• Where relatives are willing to waive the chance of prosecution an Information Recovery Process would use contacts in the security forces and paramilitary groups to retrieve information on killings.

• The Commission would oversee Thematic Studies to arrive at an understanding of issues such as the role of paramilitary groups and allegations that security forces colluded with loyalist killers. It is hoped such work would help identify mistakes in the past and ensure they are not repeated.

• Issues in wider society would be tackled to meet the needs of victims, a Reconciliation Forum would help heal divisions, while sectarianism would be tackled and social problems such as addiction, made worse by the Troubles, could be targeted.

• A £100m Bursary would be set up to fund projects aimed at dealing with legacy issues.

Under the blueprint no further costly public inquiries into the past would be initiated, although the ones currently under way would be allowed to conclude.

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  • Bruno Spiro

    Shameful.

    The bomber and the bombed are to be accorded moral equivalence, and it’s not simply about recognising the pain of all those left behind.

    Paying out the same amount of compensation to all sidesteps the responsibility of those who were perpretators and gives the impression that society in retrospect allows those who indulged in murderous action to claim the passivity of the innocent victim.

    Treating the death of someone, for example, simply entering a shop to buy fish in the same fashion as the death of the bomber whilst blowing up the fish shop is plain wrong.

  • cynic

    I had hoped for more and if these reports are true this is a shambles. The fundamental problem we all need to face is that we do not yet want to be reconciled. So no amount of this nonsense will deliver anything practical.

    The £12,000 a head bung for the next of kin of terrorists is just shameful and will never get support in Unionism. It must therefore be a throwaway item to be traded for something else.

    “A Legacy Commission chaired by an international figure, with two vice chairs, would run for five years at a cost of £160m”

    This just undermines the position of PSNI and all the other institutions. So what exactly is its legal and constitutional position? Who is it accountable to? What is the role of the Policing Board in it? Where will the staff come from? What if it finds fresh evidence? What is it’s role in Justice?

    “A £100m Bursary would be set up to fund projects aimed at dealing with legacy issues”

    Just £100m? Why not just just bung everyone over 25 a hundred quid and tell them to forget about it?

    ” The Commission would oversee Thematic Studies to arrive at an understanding of issues such as the role of paramilitary groups and allegations that security forces colluded with loyalist killers.”

    So not inquiries but ‘thematic studies’. Just how will it do this without access to the real information as opposed to the propaganda and lies on all sides. And why just collusion between the security forces and loyalist killers? Didn’t they allegedly collide with republicans too?

    “studies of the roles of paramilitary groups” ….. errr they killed people

  • What else could they have come up with as a means of giving compensation money to the victims? Nothing. Republicans would go crazy if police and army families got money and they didn’t. The balance of evils is between giving some to families of killers or to none to anybody.
    And though the killers who died may have brought that outcome upon themselves – as in Begley’s case – you can not so easily say that the families did that and that their grief isn’t as real.
    The principle that we are all victims of history here goes back 15 years to the Major Reynolds Joint Declaration. It is a bit late to be rejecting the implications of that. It is a foundational principle of the peace process.
    Mind you, there is perhaps a bit of craftiness in this too. With all these families now having been told by a superficial media that they are all to get money, it will be impossible to turn down all of the report and refuse them it.

    But another problem, who decides who gets the money. The family of someone killed in the 70s might include two generations and a dozen or more grandchildren. Spread twelve grand among them and it won’t go far. But, I bet Gordon Brown thinks it would be a great fiscal stimulus.

  • Absolutely absurd proposal.

  • Another aspect of it is that many of those paramilitaries who died were hapless and stupid young people, exploited by older people who survived their war. Half of all the IRA members who died in the first years of the troubles – going by the IRA’s own Tirgra – were own goals, many of them driving around bombs that they had no control over. If a couple of teenagers are sent out by a bomb team to park a carbomb in Belfast and then get blown up because they can’t find a parking space – which happened – then I count them victims of manipulative and callous people directing them. So the divide between killer and victim is not so simple that any system of compensation would not produce injustice.

  • But malachi, the family of someone who blew themselves up are still victims of the troubles. they’ve lost relatives.

  • Brian Walker

    For me, Eames/Bradley have funked it and got the worst of both worlds.

    As leaked, the report seems more an accountancy exercise than a morally argued analysis. It appears to try to bail the government out of ever spiraling inquiry costs more than anything else. I would guess the lawyers would have a field day challenging the status and remit of any legacy commission, applied to any particular case.

    Inevitably equivalence was always going to run into trouble. As conceived the report here is self-contradictory. How can they argue for equivalence for the past – therefore neutrality between aggressors and victims -while purporting to continue to look for prosecutions in the future?

    It would have been far more honest and consistent to recognise the obvious fact that a de facto amnesty has existed from at least 2000. To deny this is disingenuous, evasive and narrowly political and they will get no thanks for it.
    Appeasement of parties in NI only aggravates the other side, haven’t they noticed? They may as well have been hanged for a sheep as a lamb, or to switch metaphor, to bite a hard bullet. Far better for society and for relatives in the end to have wiped the slate officially clean and left the rest to truth seeking without penalty, as far as can be achieved.

    At this late stage, I hope that at least the Government treats the five year term of the Legacy Commission as the limitations period and bring an end to pretence.

    FM and DFM have split on predictable lines. How depressing before the report itself is even published, that Peter Robinson has chosen to try to bury the report. It will be hard for him to backtrack without losing face, particularly if government accepts the principle of equivalence.

    As the main local parties are a long way from maturity, the UK government will have to impose a view on this subject – for the last time, I hope.

  • Brian Walker

    PS Will the DUP go on to recommend boycotting tainted blood money? British bribery! How can they not? You can hear the ranting already. And the cloying SF response. And what does that do for fond hopes of forbearance and long-term reconciliation?

  • Turgon

    Brian,
    I agree entirely: this process is a total farce. It was always likely to produce such a ludicrous, contradictory and insulting set of suggestions. As such the commission is, far from creating reconciliation, fermenting and increasing division. This is why all along, I have argued that Eames Bradley should have abandoned their pointless quest. They must have realised this sort of reaction was inevitable. Hence, I come back to my charge that they do know and are doing what their political masters (the governments) tell them and are enjoying their limelight rather than actually helping any victims.

  • Brian Walker

    Turgon,
    I don’t question their motives or believe they are under any obligation to government. Just that a judgment of Solomon is always a tempting solution in a divided society. But as both clerically educated gentlemen should know, Solomon was bluffing.

  • John Fitzwilliam

    If equivalence is to be the end game of conflict what is the point in prolonging the agony by tacking on all the other guff? If everyone is equally guilty and/or innocent ‘justice’ has been achieved. Further delving into detail is meaningless.

    Btw if the Belfast Agreement á la George Mitchell is a template for the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East will equivalence also be the outworking there? It will be informative to hear reaction when the argument is advanced that a Gazan child is as equal in responsibility as an Israeli F18 pilot.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I was watching Godfrey Donaldson on TV tonight frothing about people recieving money – people who skulked in the shadows and shot people in the back. It took me a minute to realise that he wasn’t referring to the UDR and the colonial police assassination squads but the native Irish. I must be getting old.

  • Billyo

    I have concerns that the “colonial police assassination squads” (can’t believe I typed that sh*t) are going to get some dosh. Do they deserve it given that there were some 13000 of them at any one time their productivity was pi** poor?

    I mean what with only half a million Catholics in Northern Ireland that was only just over 38 for each RUC Stormtrooper to deal with, and if they were getting it tight they could call on the 20000 plus Brit soldiers to help out.

    Perhaps their training in identifying those unwashed folks with too-close together eyes wasn’t up to the mark? Or did the majority of Catholics hide someplace else between 1969 and 1998?

    I just can’t work it out.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    You caught me, billyo. I got up and looked in the mirror.

  • USA

    I had strong reservations about this one also when I read about it. $12,000 per family? Very boorish, and in many cases I think it will be considered insulting. The public will no doubt throw up a series of moral questions. I just don’t see this one having legs. What were they thinking?

  • brendan,belfast

    Very disappointing and frankly, immoral conclusion – and 100% unworkable. How do you decide the “family” of the victim?

    What about those injured? Arguably they have actually carried a bigger burden, including a financial one?

    What about victims families who happen to be well off? Do they really need 12k? I wonder how much would go unclaimed?

    When is the line drawn? Do Thomas Devlin’s parents get 12K? Lisa Dorrian’s?

    Very, very disappointing conclusions. Malachi – you gotta rethink your comments on this one..

  • West Belfast

    Here we go again! We were better than you and you were better than me!!

    Brendan Belfast – why is this immoral? The families of everyone killed deserve this – it was a nasty dirty conflict with no winners – allow every family a bit of dignity. Get off your moral high horse!!

    By the way what exactly did Thomas Begleys Mother do wrong? or any other mother for that fact?

    Say what you really want to say – it was them bad republicans who were to blame – forget about everything else. Forget Glenane Forget Bloody Sunday Forget Ballymurphy Forget it all. It was just them pesky republicans!! I accept we did terrible things – La Mon, Enniskillen, Shankill.

    Until you accept we all did wrong then theres no future. So I offer that! what do you offer????

  • Turgon

    West Belfast,
    “Until you accept we all did wrong then theres no future”

    Absolute nonsense: unless you committed a crime you did no wrong. It is not wrong to peacefully support a united Ireland. It is not wrong to peacefully oppose it.

    La Mon, Glenane etc. etc. were committed by individuals: they bare individual responsibility for their actions, those who helped them also bare responsibility. The idea that we were all to blame is utter nonsense and offensive. The overwhelming majority of us are completely innocent and attempts to say we were all responsible are utterly immoral and inaccurate.

  • cynic

    “Get off your moral high horse!!”

    No thanks. There is a morality in not giving money to the families of bombers and murderers.It’s also not an issue of ‘themuns’. Why should the family of the Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy get money from the state juts because he was later murdered himself? It’s utter madness.

    This one is so gross that I suspect it’s a diversion strategy to take the heat and let some of the other stuff flow through as seeming almost reasonable. The fact is that no one is even debating the rest of the proposals on slugger.

  • malachi

    sometimes you give to the undeserving in order to reach those in need. For example pension campaigners want unclaimed benefit showered on all old people to be sure of reaching those who don’t claim what they are entitled to. If you have to get everyone to agree on who is deserving before paying out them noone will get anything.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Categories which should be excluded from any payment:
    Families who continue to support glorification of a deceased relative’s murderous activities.
    Families who are on record as saying that “money won’t heal our grief” or similar sentiments.
    Families who are already being well provided for financially by virtue of the victim’s occupation.
    Families which have already received substantial payouts through the courts.

  • Rory Carr

    This news of proposed compensation for victim’s families has put Herself into a bit of a wax. She’s going around muttering to herself, ” Twelve thousand! I knew it. I shoulda’ done him in years ago. I’d be out now and twelve grand in me pokey. Twelve bloody grand!”

  • Brendan,belfast

    To west Belfast, “Until you accept we all did wrong then theres no future”

    You know what, west Belfast? I – and my family did nothing wrong. Killed no-one, planted no bombs, didn’t support or facilitate killers.

    So no – I don’t have to accept that we all did wrong. And I like the view from my moral high horse.

  • C

    Just a theory but maybe the focus on the £12,000 for each victim’s family is something of a smokescreen. It is creating a political firestorm that was entirely predictable. Not to mention that it is highly problematic and potentially unworkable in practice. Think of the potential for causing further strife within families through petty squabbles over who receives what / what is done with the money.

    After the expected political windbagging – most notably from DUP etc – I expect this aspect of the proposals to be dropped…Then the more significant and potentially more constructive aspects of the recommendations can go forward. A conspiracy theory I know but I can only hope that they were that smart.

    On a side-note, a pointed – but unintentional – juxtaposition of photos of ‘our leader’ Peter Robinson on the Belfast Telegraph website:

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/troubles-compensation-an-insult-to-victims-says-first-minister-14154688.html

  • West Belfast

    I suppose I didnt expect anything more. I totally accept many of the actions of the IRA were disgusting. But to sit there and say that the Security Forces were always right, apart from the odd wrongdoer, is immoral and hurtful to my community.

    Kids killed by plastic bullets, priests shot dead, protestors shot dead, teenagers shot dead going home because of who their brother was. Arming and using loyalist paramilitaries.

    I understand your difficulties of coming to terms with the fact that republicans were not simply blood thirsty pyschopaths.

    It was hard for me to come to terms with that the RUC/MI5/FRU did not embark on collusion because they were evil men. They did it because the thought it was for the greater good. I still dont think it can be justified but I accept they believed it was the right thing to do.

    By the way you still havent answered my question – what exactly did Thomas Begleys mother do wrong?

  • Turgon

    West Belfast,
    Thomas Begley’s mother did nothing wrong. However, had Mr Begley been killed in a car accident and it was deemed to be his fault she would have recieved nothing.

    Sadly he did not crash his car: it was not an accident, he murdered people and died in the process. It makes her sadness no less; it might make it more. However, it does not mean she should recieve money.

  • west belfast

    First of all thanks for giving your answer to my question. I think your absolutely wrong but I accept the sincerity of your view.

    Dont you even understand, not agree, that I saw the British Army as an oppressive organisation who terrorised my community. The RUC the same.

    This is the core of our problem – you refuse to even acknowledge that my community had reasons for doing bad things. Your community did bad things too but Im sure they had their reasons.

  • iluvni

    “By the way what exactly did Thomas Begleys Mother do wrong?”

    apart from not smothering the rancid wee bastard at birth, you mean?

  • west belfast

    iluvni

    thanks for that answer – which contributes nothing to this discussion.

    Next!!

  • Turgon

    west belfast,
    You seem to be ignoring my point so I will repeat it:

    Thomas Begley’s mother did nothing wrong. However, had Mr Begley been killed in a car accident and it was deemed to be his fault she would have recieved nothing.

    Sadly he did not crash his car: it was not an accident, he murdered people and died in the process. It makes her sadness no less; it might make it more. However, it does not mean she should recieve money.

  • Rory Carr

    It might be a good idea to re-read and take on board the very prescient comments of C above.
    He/She hits the nail right on the head and I am quite surprised that commentators thus far from such a politically sophisticated background, who are normally capable of (not to say pain-in-the arsedly renowned for) angels-on-pinheads forensic examination of any proposal whatsoever, failed to recognise this almost immediately.

    Even a modest old duffer like meself stuck in sunny Tottenham-by-the Sea (well, by the Lea anyway) could spot that ploy which is what gave me permission, if you like, for my earlier tasteless comment.

  • Séamus

    Firstly, offering the money in the first place is insulting to many victims, regardless of which organisation their loved one was a member of.

    Secondly, the family of innocent civilians, people like Alan McBride, should be treated differently than the family of Thomas Begley. Sharon McBride was a civilian, Thomas Begley was a combatant.

    On the otherhand, the RUC, the UDR, the British Army etc committed many attrocities in the North during the Troubles. Should they be treated in the same way that an innocent civilian should be? I believe their should be one rule for civilians and one rule for combatants.

    Civilians should be treated as one, and the IRA, the UVF, the RUC, the British Army etc should all then be treated as one.

  • Rory Carr

    Ok, Ok! I’m convinced already!

    This 12 grand for the deados is a nonsense – and divisive to boot – which is not what we want is it?
    Besides – what’s a dead guy gonna do with all that dosh? And, remember, we are in a recession. That’s right. Dead guys are tight. They don’t spend nuthin’! Zilch! They ain’t consumers (which is what the economy needs, right?) – they are consumees. Ask the worms. What’s a worm gonna do with twelve grand? Eat it, that’s what. How’s that gonna help the economy?

    Better to give something to all those guys that didn’t get killed in the first place. These were the prudent people, which is what we need nowadays. Besides which they are consumers – Very Important People nowadays, mark my words. They would spend MONEY! – if they had some.

    So that’s it – give money to all those (over 60) who SURVIVED. It doesn’t have to be much – something small – say between £680,000 and £870,000 per male and one or two grand thrown in for the ladies for bingo and face creams to keep them happy.

    Not only will this not annoy anyone (except the youth who are always annoyed anyway and there is nothing anybody can do about that – it is a function of their condition) but it will also help to make public social life much more fun.

  • NotThatBigIan

    ‘Get off your high horse…’

    The horse was decomissioned long ago along right after it walked on the moral compass.

    We just have to face the fact that our shared bun fight was resolved by stretching the rules of basic decency and fair play way past credulity.

    This is another chapter in the alice in wonderland delusion where anything, everything goes in the name of preserving the absence of paramiltaries.

    So the price of reconcilliation is the equivalent of one garage extension for every body in the ground? Fuck off.

  • USA

    Turgon,
    Your analysis is much too simplistic, there is no way the good guys v bad guys routine is going to hold water.
    I know it is difficult for Unionists to accept their role in this conflict, particularily as unionists are conditioned to believe they were the good guys fighting the terrorists etc.
    But not everyone viewed it that way.

    Rory Carr,
    Fuck Off.