A narrative that addressing the legacy of the past benefits only one section of the community has emerged as a consistent theme in The Newsletter. This, in my opinion, is political and not always in the interests of families bereaved or those injured.
However, when this narrative, that has been carefully fostered, is examined it doesn’t stack up.
There are 56 inquests into killings by loyalists, republicans and the State’s armed forces.
Included in that figure are the killings of RUC officers and people from within the unionist/loyalist community.
I also understand that a number of killings of UDR/RIR soldiers by republicans may also come before the Attorney General for consideration to reopen fresh inquests.
In comparison to the vast numbers of unsolved killings this is a small handful of cases yet crucially important not just morally and legally but more so for the bereaved families’ need to know; a feeling that all bereaved relatives will understand.
In a hysterical outburst the DUP cited that of all historic legacy investigations, 90%? relate to British army killings. This is untrue, misleading and very unhelpful.
Deliberately manufacturing figures requires closer examination not least by all those bereaved and injured.
I believe that some politicians and commentators are fuelling a debate that seeks to prevent any focus on the legacy of the past.
There has also been criticism of role of the Director of the Public Prosecution Service (DPP) Barra McGrory, and the Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) Sir Declan Morgan. Such was the scale of this political hysteria that the LCJ and DPP went public providing factual information and clarity dispelling the notion.
The focus then shifted to the PSNI by these same politicians. The PSNI have now also gone public to reject the DUP figures as being totally false.
In December 2014 the Executive parties and both governments agreed mechanisms at Stormont House to address the past.
Of the four agreed bodies the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), a body with full police powers conducting criminal investigations into killings, appeals mostly to families who had a loved one killed.
Many of the bereaved want a rigorous robust investigation of the evidence concerning the killing of loved ones.
Families want a process in which they have trust and confidence irrespective of religion or politics.
Many families have had no proper investigations and this is the very least they deserve. Families feel a strong sense of duty to the memory of a loved one including a commitment to the deceased, whether a father, mother, brother, sister, daughter or son, to ensure that the murder receives a thorough and impartial examination. The HIU, if implemented properly, can achieve this.
Without doubt the HIU will be tasked with handling the bulk of killings that occurred and this is precisely why all parties, including the DUP and UUP, agreed to the HIU.
Not implementing the HIU is failing families from right across the community. This means that families seeking answers, and who want no stone left unturned, feel somewhat isolated with a sense of losing out.
Resolving this is a no brainer.
If we take the perception that there exists an imbalance on cases being examined then surely the logical step is to implement the HIU.
This would include all unsolved killings and immediately shift the investigative focus, through the HIU, onto those organisations responsible for majority of killings.
Victims and survivors require a more unified voice for the common purpose of ensuring that the past is addressed for the greater number of people bereaved and injured irrespective of who killed them or who they were.
Victims and survivors also need to be heard beyond the politics that so often claims to represent them but instead often times fails them.
Collectively we have experienced many hurts and harms, some too painful and unspeakable.
In the legacy debate division sometimes comes too easily.
We need to find better ways to engage, resolve difference with respect, heal and reconcile together. Dealing with the past can, and will, make a significant contribution to achieving these outcomes.
If you have been bereaved and have unanswered questions then examine the HIU proposals that were agreed. They contain the best hope we have.
Whilst Mark Thompson’s post can be construed as laudable, as someone who has had his father murdered by the Provisional IRA, his killer released early, to then kill again and not be touched for it due to political expediency at the time and to be currently serving a prison sentence in the Republic for another attempted murder, the article reads to me as accept it, this is as good as you are going to get.
My father would have been an Alliance voter, and up until his murder, I would have been too. Because of the actions of the Republican movement I will forever more vote strongly Unionist.
From my Unionist viewpoint and what Mark Thompson and others cannot seem to grasp the concept of is the fact that very very few in the Unionist community can see what has been gained since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and every so called Agreement since, for Unionism.
The Republican movement and its fellow travellers have long since won the media war and the perception, due to the media, in the Unionist Community is that due to the current focus on soldier’s trials, and the likes of Dissident bail absconders and paltry sentencing for Dissident offences, Northern Ireland is becoming a colder and colder house for Protestants.
I have travelled widely for Youth football and the alleged ‘poor down trodden’ Catholic ghettos of the past are long gone, with many of these areas graced with facilities that equivalent Protestant areas could only dream of.
In a large part, this is due to the abysmal support offered by Big House Unionism, where they are more interested in feathering their own nests and living off the backs of the people they supposedly represent.
The only way the Legacy of the past will be resolved, is by bringing in complete outsiders and a deal is reached were ‘Full Disclosure’ from all sides is agreed. This Full Disclosure will not be Smithwick Tribunal Disclosure, but Full Disclosure. If parties do not give Full Disclosure, then, if in a position of Government in Northern Ireland, remove them from Government, no arguments.