Relatives of those murdered in the Claudy and Shankill bombings spoke out yesterday at the launch of a report criticising the treatment of victims.
Human rights group Amnesty International called the meeting in Belfast, attended by survivors and bereaved family members, to demand a fresh effort to deal with unfinished business in the peace process.
Its report criticised the fact that while Ulster is held up as a model for conflict resolution across the globe, to this day “many victims and their families yearn for a true account of the violations and abuses committed against them”.
It said no single body has ever been given over-arching responsibility for getting to the bottom of the thousands of murders, and tens of thousands of injuries, committed by all sides in the Troubles.
Instead, it has been left in the hands of a “patchwork” of organisations, including the HET, the Police Ombudsman, coroner’s courts and occasional public inquiries.
Among those telling their stories were Alan McBride, whose wife was killed in the Shankill bombing, and Peter Heathwood, who told of how he tried to fight off gunmen at his home in 1979, but was shot and left paralysed.
Believing him to be dead, Mr Heathwood’s father died of a heart attack at the scene.
Also there was James Miller, 43, from Co Londonderry.
He is the grandson of David Miller, who was aged 60 when he was killed – along with eight others – in the triple car-bombing at Claudy on July 31, 1972.
Mr Miller said: “I’ve never had a grandfather in my life. I’ve never had that opportunity to play football with him, to bounce on his knee – the things that grandparents do. I see my father doing those things with my children, and realise that I’ve missed out on all this.”
A Police Ombudsman report in 2010 said the original investigation was a failure.
Asked what he wants now, Mr Miller said: “The simple answer is I want the truth. Maybe some sort of independent, international process to deliver the truth.”
This could take a similar form to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he said.
Amnesty’s report, Northern Ireland: Time To Deal With The Past, suggests a new body should be set up to “investigate all outstanding cases and patterns of abuses and violations”, including having the power to compel witnesses, deal with reparations, and be responsible for “helping bring an end to violence and division” in general.
But director Patrick Corrigan said ultimately it is for others to decide what such a body would look like.
Near the end, a one-minute silence was held at the meeting in memory of victims.