“an important contribution to the debate about the past…”

For what it’s worth… As the BBC reported, yesterday the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, published “a summary of responses to the previous Government’s consultation on the Consultative Group on the Past Report” [pdf file].  But not the current Government’s response…  Apparently they’ll be considering the four three Victims Commissioners’ recent “constructive advice” “in detail over the coming weeks”.

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  • Interestingly, according to Annex A, no response was submitted at a denominational level by Catholic or Presbyterian church.

    I do wonder in how many ways the advice from the Commission for Victims and Survivors has changed over the past 18 months or so? They were consulted by the original Consulative Group on the Past, commented publicly on publication of the report (and perhaps shied away from some ideas they had been more supportive of during their oral submissions) and are now offering the Secretary of State their latest opinion.

    In their latest document (snippet below), the Victims’ Commissioners admit that they originally supported the £12k payment, though I seem to recall they were critical of it when the Eames/Bradley report was published …

    In its report in January 2009, the Consultative Group sought to give recognition to victims and survivors in its proposal for a £12,000 payment to the next of kin of the dead of the conflict. At the time, the Commission expressed its support for that proposal. We did so with the knowledge of many bereaved individuals who have had years of struggle to make ends meet and whose circumstances have been beyond the consciousness of wider society. For that purpose, we believed that a one-off payment would be a good and useful form of recognition of their enduring struggle.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The obvious fact is that people are not as fixated on the past as the Overclass and those inside what the americans call the beltway.
    The fact is that many groups couldnt be arsed to make a submission as there is absolutely no point.
    The entire process is built on Creative Ambiguity.
    And Ive made my position clear that I find it repulsive. But its probably the only thing that actually works. Shining a light on the past is best left to Historians in archives and dull books.
    The journos had their chance to tell the truth during the Troubles. and during the Process. They kept their mouths firmly closed.
    Then all of a sudden they remember the disgusting murder of Jean McConville and they remember “I was there on Bloody Sunday”.
    Who could possibly put any trust in them to be any part of the process.
    The Presbyterian and Catholic Church are right not to contribute to this nonsense. We are regularly told on Slugger that Churches have no relevance….now all of a sudden their opinion is sought.

    Frankly, the Govt has been throwing compensation and money at “the past” while simultaneously backing a procedure thats deliberately ambiguous.

  • o’connor

    The past is not just another country it’s a war zone. Not surprising people dont want to know. It is too close, the only people interested in it, are those with something to gain, usually financial.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “O’Connor” makes an excellent point….financial gain.
    The casual Slugger reader in USA or wherever could be forgiven for thinking people here are fixated on the Past….and truth commissions and pious utterances about coming to terms with it all. In fiction “endings” are very tidy. Thats not how it works in Real Life..although the Conflict Resolution industry would wish it otherwise.
    Our Peace is based…..imperfectly …on Creative Ambiguity and despite the wishful thinkers that post on Slugger hoping to be the first to say “I told you so”, it seems to be working.

    The enthusiasm of academics and journalists and the wider chattering classes is not matched by the people on the street……not that they matter to the chattering classes.
    We have had suggestions (now binned thankfully) of a £12,000 lump sum to all victims regardless of circumstance.
    We have had ex RUC people (already handsomely paid off) talk of compensation for THEIR trauma and the victims of Libyan guns are now being lined up for some cash.

    In the early days of the Troubles many went uncompensated as the Compo Culture was not as established as now. Many of us involved in traumatic incidents were unaware that a few short years later our “trauma” would have a price tag attached……but of course our trauma was past its “sell by” date. No money.

    In effect the general victimhood of Norn Iron has been recognised by the generous amounts of Taxpayer cash……European and American money pumped into “community” projects.
    We have a two tier system.
    The real minority are people who have NOT been compensated.
    If we are talking cash payments what about £100 for every adult year between 1969 and 1998 and £50 for every year under 18.
    So I will have 28 x £100 and 2 x £50 …..£2,900 works for me.

  • fitzjameshorse1745 @ 11:21 am (and earlier) is correct in one respect:

    Shining a light on the past is best left to Historians in archives and dull books.

    Though, of course, there is no reason why historiography should be “dull”.

    That said, he might agree in return that “Jaw-jaw is better than war-war”.

    Above all, the nuances of interpretation (and, in interpreting, adding inevitable bias) between Owen Paterson and his recent predecessors will be interesting, and telling, in themselves.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    But we dont have war war.
    If we had, then jaw jaw would indeed be better.
    But the chattering classes need something about which to chatter. And the Overclass needs something about which to feel superior.
    So “The Past” is the non-issue chosen.
    With the inducement to Victims and ordinary mortals that there might be some dosh in it.
    As Arthur Daley might have put it a “nice little earner” of Saville like proportions.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Fair Deal had an interesting quote on his http://www.ultonia.blogspot.com on the Ardoyne riots, I hope he wont mind my including it,

    “I used to do youth work in the area and{something} a fellow youth worker said always resonate in my head about interface youth. He’d been involved with paramilitarism and served time in jail with his youth work was a means to do something positive.

    “Some of them used to ask me about the Troubles and sometimes I’d tell them. Later I noticed it was the same ones who I had to chase away from interface riots. So I refuse to tell the stories now. I was helping fill their heads with shit.”

    I think that should make us all think, some grievances should be let go and consigned to history, other have to be dealt with to an extent first before that can happen, allowing that to happen and preventing the the hate passing on to new generations should be the focus, not raking up things that are best left be.

    As I am involved in a local cross community history group I have seen how posative “good history” can be, researching can be difficult due to the lack and bias nature of most documentation, but slowly some sort of truth can be sifted out. It would be good to leave some sort of accurate account for future generations before those who were involved pass on, as many already have.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Drumlins Rock makes a good point.
    At times I think it is like 1967 all over again.
    There were I think two types of youth growin up in ….lets say Ardoyne…simply because its the example he chooses.

    In “Ardoyne” in 1967, there might have been men with a certain reputation from the 1940s and 1950s. It might have been possible to go into a home there and see secular icons (Easter Rising, Kevin Barry whatever) alongside the religious icons.
    It might have been a source of wonderment even admiration to the teenagers. Or perhaps ridicule.
    These men who had that whiff of cordite might have been the tellers of tales or just as likely men who did not speak about it.
    They might well have had other interests such as the Gaelic language, GAA, teaching the fiddle. Parents who wanted their kids to stay clear of that kinda thing MIGHT well have seen “warning signs”. But in 1967, calling on your Ardoyne mate to play footy in the Woodvale Park (yes it happened) against some lads from other side of Crumlin Road (yes it happened), you might see these secular and religious icons alongside each other.
    By 1969 or 1971, those teens might have made a choice. It is not necessarily the case that those who admired the men with the whiff of cordite…..went into paramilitary groups. My point is that it was often the teens who ridiculed that kinda thing who went that way a few years later.

    We now have a new generation of teens in Ardoyne, Falls, Bogside and Crossmaglen. They have no direct involvement in the old days.
    And theres middle aged men who are fully paid up members of the Felons and have a living room stacked with Long Kesh harps……..some might hanker for the old days. most dont. And kids might well listen to them.
    And be impressed by the tall stories or indeed the quiet men and hanker after wishing they could do something…or just be glad that they did……or indeed ridicule them, “whats that got to do with us”.

    Should it all start again……and I doubt it…..its not necessarily the mouthy old men and the impressionable teens who will be in the thick of it.
    Its much easier now for a teen in Ardoyne to sing “Sean South of Garryowen” but its largely meaningless. And as easy to pass off the Troubles as an irrelevance to their lives.
    But apathy is just as meaningless when the chips are down.