DOCUMENT EXCLUSIVE: BROKEN PRESENT – BROKEN PAST – By Brian Rowan 

 

For now, everything is broken – the politics of the present and the plan to address the past.

The shambolic end to talks on Tuesday means a proposed legacy consultation is left languishing in that Stormont limbo.

It was Secretary of State James Brokenshire’s hope to lift the arguments of the conflict period out of political negotiations and to test the public mood.

This website has obtained and read a briefing paper on that legacy consultation process shared with the parties on June 22nd.

The paper recognised advantages in moving swiftly in the event of agreement to restore the Executive. It would demonstrate to victims and survivors a determination to make progress.

But Stormont is stuck in disagreement.

Several phases of negotiation have not shifted the main parties from their trenches. Many issues remain unresolved.

The legacy paper also recognised the disadvantages of a summer consultation when many people are on holiday.

 

 

So, the parties were being asked to consider the best time to launch such a process and over what period.

For now, these are irrelevant questions as the past is kept waiting in the political disputes of the present.

What we find in this paper is the shaping of that planned eventual consultation on a proposed legacy structure – a Historical Investigations Unit, Independent Commission on Information Retrieval, oral history archive and reconciliation element.

What method or methods would achieve maximum reach and agreement?

The consultation would be published on the UK government website.

Using Citizen Space – an online consultation platform – is also under consideration.

There would be public information events.

The parties are asked to consider the geographical spread of these; Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Omagh/Enniskillen, Armagh/Newry as well as in Britain – perhaps in London or Warrington.

The paper asks for responses on timing, representation and other factors; how to create the atmosphere in which people will feel confident about putting forward their views.

There is a missing question – how to achieve a successful consultation in the absence of political agreement on the past?

On this website recently, Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann highlighted unionist concerns, about the planned HIU, about the definition of victim and the re-writing of history.

 

 

Republican/nationalist concerns about national security have not been addressed. Sinn Fein is clear that the planned consultation is “not acceptable” and have told the governments.

So, the waiting continues; Secretary of State James Brokenshire left with the summer failure of these talks; left looking out on that broken present and a broken past.

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