A prominent Free Presbyterian minister has suggested all victims of the Troubles – including perpetrators – should be assessed anonymously in terms of compensation.
Rev David McIlveen told BBC’s Sunday Sequence programme: “If someone is in need I believe they should be considered in a compassionate way.”
He said: “There are many people suffering as a result of the Troubles and we can’t diminish that, but at the same time, we can’t live in the past.
“We’ve got to move on and we’ve got to, in some way, compensate and encourage people to do that.
“We have to always appreciate that neither the state nor the church, nor any organisation has an unending reservoir of comfort.
“We can’t provide all the answers to people.”
He continued: “I’m not convinced in my own mind about the pursuit of truth. I just don’t know how one defines that in terms of all the ingredients that might perhaps make up that final solution to that individual.
“Could it be compensation? Could it be more support from the government, from the church? Those are contributing factors.
“And when it comes to compensation, and I know it is a sensitive issue, but I would be of the mind that every individual who has suffered, who has some legacy from the past in terms of their feelings and sensitivities, they should be treated in an anonymous way. And they should be able to present their need in a manner that is personal to them and that that need should be responded to in an individual way.
“I feel that would be much more important in dealing with that difficult issue of compensation for victims.”
Asked if that includes perpetrators he said: “If there is anonymity then it would certainly bring them on board though we wouldn’t know anything about that if it was in an anonymous way.
“I certainly would not condone the actions of violent or murderous people.
“I would suggest there would be very few who would be in the category that would be viewed suspect in the minds of many from the public, but we do need to pass on into a different period and I would pray most earnestly that we would be able to do that sooner rather than later.”
He added: “Every person would have to be assessed accordingly and if they’ve got needs, whatever those needs are, the response would be according to the measurement of their need.
“It wouldn’t be the classification of perpetrator or the classification of the innocent.
“It would be the classification of those who have specific needs – that would be the criteria.”