Victims conference: Burning rage at lack of justice

Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone
Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone

Victims’ Commissioner Kathryn Stone drew anger from some last year for shunning the word “terrorists” when describing the IRA or UVF.

And yesterday the language of the post-Troubles landscape came up again, with the commissioner maintaining a carefully-balanced tone.

The conference was made up of speeches until 11am, after which delegates went to workshops (which the press could not attend) to discuss four topics – truth, acknowledgement, reparations and justice.

Before this part began Ms Stone warned those involved to show “heightened awareness” of the words they used, so as not to cause offence.

“We agree that different people have a different world view. And that’s ok. We might not agree with them, but we understand that they have a different world view,” she said.

“The conference is about the commission listening to your views on dealing with the past. It must also be about you listening to each other.”

But as well as urging respect for different points of view, she acknowledged many victims harbour a “burning rage about the lack of justice, the not-knowing, the grief that become all-consuming”.

“Today is your opportunity to have your say,” she added.

“It’s your opportunity to inform what the commission will advise ministers on dealing with the past.”

The First and Deputy First Ministers had been invited but sent an official instead.

Their office said it would have been “unsuitable” to go, because “political discussions on dealing with the past are currently taking place”.