Victims can’t back Stormont House Agreement – Frazer

Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson pictured with Peter Robinson (left) and Martin McGuinness
Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson pictured with Peter Robinson (left) and Martin McGuinness

Victims of terrorism can see nothing in the Stormont House Agreement that would “help them move on”, Willie Frazer has said.

The Markethill-based campaigner was responding to a claim by Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson that the controversial document represents “the most comprehensive set of proposals yet” in the search for closure.

Mr Frazer said it was still unclear what was on offer.

“We see nothing there at the minute that will help us bring closure or justice for the innocent victims - it’s all hype. There is nothing there of any substance as far as we are concerned. In fact, the Stormont House Agreement is not an agreement – no one has agreed to it,” he said.

However, the commissioner said there was now an opportunity to uncover more truth about Northern Ireland’s past.

It follows nationalist criticism of legislation being drafted in Westminster which it is claimed will hide the state’s role in the conflict.

Ms Thompson said: “The proposed institutions and services of the Stormont House Agreement ... represent an important opportunity and the most comprehensive set of proposals yet to address victims’ needs.”

Proposed organisations include the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to be run by independent detectives searching for evidence for prosecutions, and the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR) where realistic prospects of convictions do not exist.

There are plans for an oral history archive and other initiatives such as a reinvigorated mental trauma service and pension provision for those seriously injured.

Ms Thompson told Stormont Assembly members: “It is my view that the HIU will make a significant contribution to the pursuit of justice for those families seeking it. The ICIR has the potential to uncover more/further truth.

“The combination of the delivery of the mental trauma service, the pension for the seriously injured, provision of advocate counsellor services and the continued funding of the Victims and Survivors Service will make a significant contribution to a package of reparations.”

Legislation is due to proceed through Westminster, guided by the Northern Ireland Office, despite the stalemate over the Stormont House Agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has said the law will only come into operation if the parties resolve disputes about Stormont House, including welfare reform.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said: “The British Government’s legislation on dealing with the legacy of the past is in clear breach of the Stormont House Agreement.”