Robin Swann: The public consultation on proposals to deal with legacy needs one month extension

Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann MLA
Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann MLA

The Ulster Unionist Party believes that the consultation paper ‘Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past’ heralds one of the most important consultation processes that has ever taken place in Northern Ireland.

Its consequences will be both far-reaching and long-lasting.

We believe that it is crucial that people speak up and have their say.

A number of groups representing victims and indeed individual victims themselves and the wider community, have raised concerns with the Ulster Unionist Party, telling us that they require more time to properly assess the proposals and make a response.

Bearing in mind that a significant part of the consultation period has taken place over the summer, and that this is such an important issue, I have written to the local party leaders, the prime minister and the secretary of state to ask them to support our call to extend the consultation period by an extra month until October 10.

How we deal with the past has been a feature of political talks for many years now and it is essential that any resolution is one which commands widespread support across the community, and in particular, is endorsed by victims and survivors of the Troubles.

If some of them require an extra month to prepare a response, then I believe we should facilitate that by extending the consultation process in order to maximise the chances of as many people as possible being able to make their voices heard.

• Robin Swann is the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and an Assembly member for the North Antrim constituency