Terror victims’ questions - Alliance Party response

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Terror victims and survivors umbrella group Innocent Victims United posed ten questions to all political parties in the general election in Northern Ireland;-

Q1. What is your Party’s position on the current definition of victim? (N.I Order 2006) If you view it as unsustainable then how will you go about practically changing the definition?

The current definition, while not perfect, is workable. We do not accept that all victims are the same as there were different contexts to how victims were created. We do not wish to create barriers to accessing services. We regard a debate on the definition of the victim as the gateway to the consideration of other issues to be counterproductive.

Q2(a) What is your Party’s position on the proposed Historical Investigations Unit? (b) Why are the powers for the HIU being devised at Westminster? (c) Do you believe an independent Police Force should investigate legacy killings? If so, why?

We support the establishment of a Historical Investigations Unit to examine historical cases. This will provide some independence for an organisation which may have to re-examine police investigations in some cases. This will now be part-funded by the UK Government as a result of the model agreed in the Stormont House Agreement.

As the relevant legislation will cover both devolved and non-devolved matters, then it is appropriate it be taken forward in Westminster.

Q3. In the light of the Boston Tapes saga and recent Court cases, how will The Information Commission for Information Retrieval model work in providing information for victims of terrorism?

The Information Commission for Information Retrieval will be useful when dealing with the past. It has a role for those victims who choose to use it when trying to establish the facts about specific incidents. Where the victims choose this route, it will be allow them to receive more information.

Q4. Does your Party support parallel binding legislation being brought forward by the UK and R.O.I State’s simultaneously which insists on equal levels of disclosure, time limits etc?

We believe that disclosure mechanisms should be in place in the Republic of Ireland on an equitable basis to the United Kingdom.

Q5. What is your Party’s position on the proposed Pension for the Seriously Injured? Who should be eligible and how would your Party propose to see the Scheme introduced in legislation?

Alliance would support a pension for those seriously injured in the Troubles and would support legislation in this regard. We await progress from OFMdFM on legislation and specifically on eligibility.

Q6. What mechanisms does your Party propose in having ‘On the Run Comfort letters’ rescinded?

The widely discredited letter scheme for On-the-Runs should not be able to be used as an assurance in court. The issue of On-the-Runs must be resolved in a transparent manner that provides justice. We have proposed a tribunal-style system that takes place in public.

Q7. What are your Party’s proposals on strengthening current legislation around the glorification of terrorism?

We recognise that there are aspects of the existing Terrorism Act (2000) which could be better enforced. We support consideration of steps to strengthen the law in this regard.

Q8. As a prerequisite in dealing with ‘The Past,’ should the R.O.I State be first required to acknowledge the failures it made around issues of security and extradition as well as recognise its’ role in the initial formation of the IRA?

We believe that examination of past actions of the Irish Government and events and actions in their jurisdiction are a key component of dealing with the past.

Q9. Does your Party support a single evidence-based historical timeline of ‘The Troubles’ or an historical timeline which also incorporates external source material eg storytelling/personal contributions and accounts?

Yes. A single historical timeline would form a useful part of our analysis of the past. We agreed to the inclusion of this in the Stormont House Agreement.

Q10. Does your Party support Article 2 Inquests in relation to legacy killings carried out over ‘The Troubles?’ If so, how do you propose that victims of terrorism will benefit?

In the Stormont House Agreement, Alliance accepted that legacy inquests should continue as a separate process to the HIU so long as the Executive take appropriate steps to improve the way the legacy inquest function is conducted to comply with ECHR Article 2 requirements.