Doug Beattie: Victims need more time to examine the proposals on how to deal with the past
The government is currently consulting on how to address legacy issues and has published a consultation paper '˜Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past' (pictured).
This is one of the most important consultation processes that has ever taken place in Northern Ireland and its consequences will be both far-reaching and long-lasting.
It is crucial that people speak up and stop the attempts that are being made to re-write history. In the foreword to the legacy consultation process the Secretary of State says that legacy proposals must be ‘balanced, fair equitable and crucially, proportionate.’
For the sake of the dead and injured, and all those who bravely stood up to fight terrorism, we must hold her to that.
A number of groups representing victims and indeed individual victims themselves and the wider community, have raised concerns with the Ulster Unionist Party, telling us that they require more time to properly assess the proposals and make a response.
Bearing in mind that a significant part of the consultation period has taken place over the summer, and that this is such an important issue, I am therefore calling on the Secretary of State and the NIO to extend the consultation period by an extra month until October 10.
How we deal with the past has been a feature of political talks for many years now and it is essential that any resolution is one which commands widespread support across the community and in particular, is endorsed by victims and survivors of the Troubles.
If some of them require an extra month to prepare a response, then I believe the Secretary of State should extend the consultation process and maximise the chances of as many people as possible being able to make their voices heard.
Doug Beattie MC, UUP MLA Upper Bann