Comments made on the BBC’s The View Programme last week in a discussion by Robin Eames (member of the upper house) and Denis Bradley around the potential for ‘political amnesty’ were not made in a vacuum.
For some period now there has existed subtle undertones (and at times louder overtones) from establishment-based figures (inside and outside Westminster) who by their words and proposed actions are seeking to declare closing time on pre 1998 ‘Troubles related’ offences.
OTR Assurance letters which have never been legally rescinded by Parliament, Royal Prerogatives of Mercy and the expected legal outcome of a proposed statute of limitations for military service personnel (Amnesty for all pre 1998 offences carried out by whoever) spells out very clearly where the focus of the establishment’s concerns are.
Examine then its litany of failures and betrayals towards innocent victims:
1. A morally bankrupt definition of victim which has the impact of decriminalising and redefining terrorism.
2. Its betrayal of innocent victims of Gadaffi-sponsored PIRA terrorism who have yet to receive accountability or compensation for the wrongs visited upon them.
3. The failure of government to provide a special pension or benefit top up for those who have suffered serious injuries as a result of terrorism and/or criminal violence.
4. The failure to establish resources and integrated health-based services to support those devastated by trauma related illness and other conditions.
5. The most disturbing and reprehensible failure of all however is; the failure of the establishment to stand by the innocent, to instead placate terrorism and its political annexes.
Terrorism was effectively defeated in the context of Northern Ireland however the establishment is at risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory through allowing insurrectionists and their mouthpieces within the political system, academia, others in public policy roles, the criminal justice system and even the churches to redefine the past advancing a narrative centre upon the theory of communal victimhood.
We say to those within the political system, those within our churches, those within academia, those within the criminal justice system and those within public policy who still know deep down what is right – get off the ropes, throw the towel back firmly at your own corner and show real desire and courage to finish the job, which will ensure a better future for our people.
Closing down the past instead of facing up to it creates the potential for history to be repeated.
We remain clear that the only way in which ‘The Past’ can be effectively and honourably dealt with is through honesty and generosity across the board.
Innocent Victims United continues to insist that the means by which we might bring about societal and individual reconciliation requires the UK and Republic of Ireland States, proscribed terrorist organisations and their political party annexes to show courage in affirming that: “We accept that no grievance, enmity or political objective justified the use of criminal violence in what became known as The Northern Ireland Troubles”.
If this foundation stone was in place then there is the potential to meaningfully deal with the legacy of the past as well as smash the justification for future violence.
Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United, Lisnaskea, South Fermanagh