Extension to legacy consultation is an appropriate move

Morning View
Morning View

The secretary of state, Karen Bradley, announced yesterday that the public consultation on how to deal with legacy of the Troubles was to be extended by more than three weeks.

The deadline for pubic submissions had been due to be on Monday September 10, and is now Friday October 5.

This is an important step. In the middle of August this column supported calls for such an extension.

Many of the people worst hit by the Troubles had to go to arduous and traumatic meetings to discuss the proposals at the height of the June and July heatwave.

The fact that the consultation happened over the summer could have given the impression that there was an attempt to push it through in the holiday season. The extension gives people more time to express their thoughts on the proposals.

It is notable that Ms Bradley said yesterday: “I have listened to those who want to take a little bit more time to consider their responses — particularly those individuals who have been most affected by the Troubles, including victims and survivors and former police officers and veterans — and I am happy to extend the deadline so that they can have their say.”

The tone of this statement is welcome. Some 60% of killings were by republican terrorists, and 30% by loyalist terrorists.

Both the prime minister and the secretary of state have said they want victims to be at the heart of the process, and the imbalance against ex security forces to be ended. That being so, you would expect the views of victims of by far the most prolific killers to weigh heavily on this process. Yet at meetings over the summer they have expressed dismay at the plans.

Our Stop The Legacy Scandal series of essays has raised grave concerns by a range of respected voices in society at the proposals.

At some stage in this process, Ms Bradley and other supporters of the structures will have to outline how they think those criticisms are wrong, as Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party does on the opposite page of this newspaper (or on web version, see link below).

If they don’t even do that, then the entire process clearly must fall.

Stephen Farry: It is wrong to say there is a legacy imbalance

• For essays in our Legacy Scandal series click on this link and scroll down