A coalition of 21 victims groups has asked if proposals to end Troubles-related prosecutions by the attorney general are intended to soften the public for a “compromise” position from Richard Haass.
Innocent Victims United (IVU) spokesman Kenny Donaldson said yesterday that their member groups had been “inundated with phone calls” yesterday from “very distressed victims who can’t quite believe what they were hearing” about Mr Larkin’s proposal.
Mr Donaldson said the proposal to “effectively erase what happened here pre-1998 has re-traumatised some of our most vulnerable members”.
“Could the attorney general’s proposal be paving the way for Haass to then come forward with a new ‘truth and justice mechanism’ which would be sold as a compromise compared to John Larkin’s idea?”
He added: “Many of our widows still hold out hope of hearing somebody held accountable for the murder of their loved ones.”
Mr Donaldson said that “innocent victims and survivors of terrorism” make up 91-92 per cent of Troubles-related deaths.
After Mr Larkin’s proposal yesterday a delegation of eight IVU members met with Prof Meghan O’Sullivan, vice-chair of the Haass talks team, where the group presented its covenant for innocent victims.
The covenant has eight “non-negotiable” points including the need for a new legal definition of victim, no amnesty, fresh investigations into terrorist acts and legal steps to oppose the glorification of terrorism.
“At the start of the meeting I expressed hope that we were not being treated as an afterthought, as we had been trying to arrange a meeting with them for two months and the official consultation period for the talks ended last week.
“Prof O’Sullivan assured us this was not the case.”
He added: “Prof O’Sullivan revealed that she had lost a family member in the World Trade Centre terrorist outrage. Members of IVU expressed their solidarity with her but also asked what her take would be were Al Qaeda terrorists elevated as a consequence of those horrific events?”
He said she did not give an answer.
“We advised that the very language ‘dealing with the past’ is terrorist-centric language. The very term tells us that terrorist acts have been consigned to ‘the past’ before talks begin.”