Lambeth Palace legacy talks postponed due to victims’ concerns
The next scheduled meeting of the Troubles legacy talks hosted by Lambeth Palace has been postponed amid ongoing criticism from victims’ groups.
Organisers Rev Harold Good and Jim Roddy said they had “heard the criticism we should have done more to include a broader range of victims’ voices” in the conversation.
The new ‘legacy forum’ has been facilitated by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s chief of staff, Canon David Porter who sat on the Eames/Bradley group.
Those invited to participate include officials from both the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Irish Government, the Ministry of Defence, academics, Sinn Fein strategist Sean Murray and loyalist Winston Irvine.
In a statement, Rev Good and Mr Roddy said they are committed to continuing the dialogue.
“We met today (Wednesday) with colleagues who took part in the seminar in early November at Lambeth Palace to discuss the legacy of the conflict.
“As detailed in a statement earlier in the week, that event involved a presentation from Professor Kieran McEvoy and Dr Anna Bryson concerning the options paper produced by them and their colleagues in the Model Bill Team entitled ‘Prosecutions, Imprisonment and the Stormont House Agreement’.
“Professor McEvoy presented preliminary findings at the Victims’ Forum in February 2020.
“This paper from Professor McEvoy and his colleagues was premised upon the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. It contains options which would see Article-2 compliant investigations into conflict-related deaths, information recovery, oral history and reconciliation work being undertaken.
“We believed that a thorough review of these options was warranted so we asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to host the seminar to facilitate that discussion. We proposed an invitation list of people who we have been in regular conversation with in relation to Legacy over recent years.”
The statement goes on to say: “We have been genuinely humbled and moved by the words of support and encouragement that we should continue with this work from many in civil society, including victims. We have also been frustrated and dismayed by some of the misinformation and misrepresentation of our meeting in Lambeth Palace. We have nonetheless heard the criticism that we should have done more to include a broader range of victims’ voices in the conversation.
“In recognition of that criticism, we have in consultation with the Archbishops office and those who attended the previous meeting decided to reschedule our follow up discussion which was planned for tomorrow.
“In the time remaining between now and Christmas and immediately after we and our other stakeholders plan to engage in wider discussions with the victims’ sector and others. Time is clearly of the essence.”
It concludes: “We have worked together for years on peace and reconciliation and have a passionate belief in the capacity of people in Northern Ireland to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The legacy of the conflict can be addressed with some political and legal imagination on the part of civil society, the joint stewardship of the two governments and the efforts of our local political parties. We will continue with others to work towards that end.”