The government proposals for dealing with the past are “not currently acceptable and need considerable change” according to the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland.
The Presbyterian Church today publishes its formal submission to the government consultation on dealing with the past, warning that a total rejection of the proposals “will likely set the issue back for many years – if not forever - adding even more distress to victims and survivors”.
In a statement, the church noted that as “the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland [it] states clearly that there was never any moral justification for the illegal taking up of arms by paramilitary organisations”. It added that “history cannot be rewritten in an attempt to portray as legitimate what was morally wrong and totally unjustified”.
The submission points out that, as the consultation paper states, there is “broad agreement that current arrangements are not delivering enough for victims, survivors and wider society”.
The church added: “There are undoubtedly significant shortcomings in terms of truth, justice and care for people who have been physically and mentally injured during the Troubles. Meaningful discussion about reconciliation and related concepts of forgiveness, grace, remorse and repentance is also worryingly absent [from the proposals].”
Rev Tony Davidson, who worked on the submission, said the proposals “represent an opportunity to find an agreed and acceptable process which could command cross-community support.”