Victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles have taken out a full page newspaper advert to accuse the Government of a shameful failure to address the legacy of the conflict.
Groups representing more than 150 bereaved families have used the ad in Thursday’s Irish News to denounce the absence of new investigative and truth recovery mechanisms in the Fresh Start political deal struck last month.
The accord between Stormont’s leaders and the UK and Irish governments resolved a number of issues, but notably did not find consensus on legacy issues.
New mechanisms for tackling the past had been agreed by politicians last year - in the Stormont House Agreement - but they have since been derailed by a row between Sinn Fein and the UK Government.
The root of the impasse is the Government’s insistence on retaining a veto, on national security grounds, over disclosing certain historic documents on Troubles killings.
Campaign groups the Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten have jointly taken out the ad.
They said it is a “sign of the anger, frustration and bitter disappointment felt by over 150 bereaved families at the abject failure of the politicians and British Government to implement the legacy proposals set out in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA)”.
Paul O’Connor from the PFC said: “Further action in support of the right to truth is being planned, including a possible full-page ad in a British daily newspaper. We would be keen to hear from families and NGOs who support these views.”
The groups said the anger and hurt voiced in the ad is the “tip of a very large iceberg”.
They added: “Families, whether Catholic or Protestant, from both communities, in the privacy of their own homes, are both angry and grieving.”
They insisted the impasse is not insolvable.
The groups said: “With goodwill, common sense and respect for international legal standards, the legitimate wish of families to the truth they so earnestly desire, and deserve, can be achieved.
“They, and we, appeal to every concerned member of the public - and all politicians - to renew their efforts to reach agreement on how to investigate the past. Now is the time to set the truth free.”