Unfinished Peace reviewed by Kathryn Stone – Thoughts on Northern Ireland’s Unanswered Past

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As Commissioner for Victims and Survivors in Northern Ireland, I spent two years wrestling in some way or another with “dealing with the past”. My time was a very short time indeed compared to the contributors in this important book. Their lives were changed forever by “the past”. They are people who have been bereaved or injured or imprisoned or outcast or who have committed their lives to campaigning on behalf of others.

Crucially, Unfinished Peace takes a very different approach to other collections and works. It allows the voices of those who are rarely heard – often ignored or deliberately excluded – to be presented with equal value and respect. Their truth is their truth. We might not like it. We might disagree with it. We might find it extremely offensive. But if it’s their truth, then that’s the way it is.

What if all of those whose “expert voices” fill airwaves and column inches, often drowning out the voices of the many, took the time to read about the experiences of “the other” – so eloquently given a platform here? Might they realise that their concerns and anxieties, and their moving accounts of love and loss are strikingly similar?

Reading this book shows how to find answers to seemingly intractable questions. Politicians, church leaders and civil society would do well to consider its messages as a way of understanding what peace might really feel like.


Kathryn Stone OBE, Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, 2012-2014

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About Author

Kathryn Stone, OBE, was appointed as the new Commissioner for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland on 24 September 2012. Prior to taking up her post with the Commission, Kathryn was the Chief Executive of VOICE UK, a national learning disability charity, promoting justice and well being for vulnerable victims as well as supporting their parents and carers. Kathryn was also the Principal Inspector for Milton Keynes Council and Head of Inspection for the London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Barking & Dagenham, responsible for the regulation of residential, nursing and day care. She also worked as an independent inspector for eight local authorities across the UK. For the past 11 years Kathryn has been involved with the Registered Intermediary Scheme sitting on the Quality Assurance Board and the Registration Board. She has also been a member of the Home Office Victims Advisory Panel (2006-2010) and a member of Derbyshire police’s independent advisory group since 2009, and chair of this group since March 2012. Kathryn was awarded an OBE in 2007 for her services to people with learning disabilities and was made a Chartered Director by the Institute of Directors in 2008 and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors in 2009.

1 Comment

  1. michael coleman on

    I cannot get past a fact which might be news to you. The people who had the most powerful guns and resources and who really started the conflict and killed a child in his bed(Patrick Rooney) were given Unconditional Amnesty in 1969. This coloured everything in my community at that time and certainly my generation’s thinking. When the law abuses the law there is no law. These matters are both historical and rhetorical facts! You as Victims Commissioner need to start much earlier than your political remit. Anything else deems your work useless. Its Tragic that the law which abused the law was able to give such a carte-blanche to the people who carry so much blame for what followed.

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