Stormont deal: Criticism from campaigners over dealing with past

Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer
Victims' campaigner Willie Frazer

The language used within the agreement last night came under fire from long-standing loyalist victims campaigner Willie Frazer.

He questioned why the word “terrorism” does not appear in the document setting out the agreement.

Mr Frazer told the News Letter that like others, he was still in the process of digesting its contents.

But he added: “The first thing that jumps out at me, which is quite worrying, is that not once has the word ‘terrorism’ been used.

“It talks about paramilitarism and crime... It’s slowly eroding the fact that terrorism went on here for 30 to 40-odd years, and is still going on here today.”

He said while the absence of the word “may not mean a lot” to many people, it was “very significant”.

The text of the Stormont House Agreement – which the Fresh Start deal effectively seeks to re-invigorate – had not used the term either.

Yesterday evening Kenny Donaldson, from victims’ umbrella group Innocent Victims United, said: “From early analysis it certainly seems that progress has proven more possible around matters concerning our economy and the infrastructure of Stormont.

“It would appear that there is a gulf between the various political parties on matters concerning the past with some commentators stating that this strand of discussions was effectively parked due to lack of consensus.”

He said it was “ironic” that the deal was known as ‘Fresh Start’, since there are “very many people who cannot avail of ‘a fresh start’ due to the ravages of terrorism and criminal violence”.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Northern Ireland’s director Patick Corrigan said: “The latest failure by both governments to agree how to investigate past human rights violations is a further let-down for victims who’ve been failed repeatedly for decades.”