Lambeth Palace talks: Concern around secrecy is ‘genuine’ says UUP’s Doug Beattie

Genuine concerns remain about the “secrecy” of talks dealing with the legacy of the Troubles that were organised by a city centre manager and a Methodist clergyman, the Ulster Unionist Party has said.
Jim Roddy (left) and Rev Dr Harold GoodJim Roddy (left) and Rev Dr Harold Good
Jim Roddy (left) and Rev Dr Harold Good

It emerged over the weekend that a ‘legacy forum’ which had been meeting at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Palace had been organised by Londonderry city centre manager Jim Roddy and Rev Harold Good, a former president of Ireland’s Methodist Church.

In the face of criticism of the talks, centred on the inclusion of Sinn Fein figures and the Irish government and the exclusion of victims of terrorism, the organisers issued a statement defending their role.

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“We have worked together on a range of peace process related issues for a long time,” the two men said in their joint statement.

“Over recent years we, along with many others, have been engaged in serious conversations relating to the legacy of our troubled past.”

In their statement, the two men said they had asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to host a “seminar” so that Queen’s University, Belfast Professor Kieran McEvoy and his colleague Dr Anna Bryson could “present” research they had carried out on various options from the Stormont House Agreement on how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The statement added: “We did not invite political parties to this seminar.”

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The UUP MLA Doug Beattie, however, said: “The statement released by the organisers of the talks at Lambeth Palace raises more questions than answers.

“They state that no political parties were invited to this talks process, yet Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon said on Friday that they were. Both can`t be right.”

He continued: “There has also been a concerted effort from some to dismiss genuine concerns about the secrecy surrounding these legacy talks. If there’s no secrecy as they claim, publish the invitee list, the invitations, the agenda and state who has been invited to the next meeting.

“Some participants have tried to downplay the event as merely ‘a seminar.’

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“If that is the case, why is there another meeting planned for the coming week? That looks more like a process than a single seminar.

“And were there any previous meetings of this group that we haven’t been told about?”

Mr Beattie called for victims to be included in any future talks process.

He added: “Terrorist victims who opposed the Stormont House Agreement since its inception have been disgracefully ignored.

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“The fact that these legacy talks took place without those voices being heard or indeed any victims of terrorism, tells you all you need to know about the skewed outlook on legacy which places the needs of terrorists ahead of those of their victims.”

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