The terror victims sector has challenged Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness after he delivered a lecture at Queen’s University Belfast this week entitled ‘Reimagining Reconciliation for the Future’.
The ex-IRA commander said: “Reconciliation is a subject I have spoken about on many occasions over the recent period and I do so, quite deliberately because I passionately believe the next phase of our peace process has to the reconciliation phase. We have come a huge way as a society since the situation was effectively transformed by the IRA cessation in 1994 and the advent of the peace process. But peace doesn’t solely mean the absence of conflict or the removal of the apparatus of war, which once pockmarked towns and villages across the north of Ireland.”
However he said political progress is being “blocked” by the UK’s refusal to open files on the past due to national security concerns.
But Ann Travers, who described herself as “a friend, sister and daughter of IRA victims”, said: “I welcome any form of reconciliation, none of us wished to have the violence or broken lives foisted upon us. It is extremely difficult, though, to see how reconciliation is possible when it is such a one-sided process. It is not enough for Martin McGuinness and others to call upon the British Government to not hide behind national security, while they hide behind the Green Book. Acknowledgement that nobody had the right to take a human life is important.”
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, added: “Mr McGuinness and his ‘comrades’ need to understand this - genuine reconciliation involves a profound change within the heart - not tactical shifts ruled by the head which bring about personal advantage. Remorse, Repentance, Restitution are precursors to genuine Reconciliation being possible”.