The core issue for republicans entering the recent political talks was ‘the past’.
Welfare reform and finance was the stalking issue which republicans used to deflect attention away from their core objective – the decriminalisation of terrorism and the accelerated demonising of the UK state.
Innocent Victims United (IVU) is in the midst of carrying out a thorough analysis of the proposals but initial points we would make are:
Point 32 in the document reads: “Appropriate governance arrangements will be put in place to ensure the operational independence of the two different elements of the work of the HIU (Historical Investigations Unit).”
What does ‘appropriate governance arrangements’ mean?
Previously in Haass this issue had been developed further where there was an inference contained that former members of the security forces with unblemished records could be debarred from involvement in the running of such a body.
This would be intolerable for our constituency, particularly given that the proposed bosses of the body are to be the Policing Board which contains once convicted terrorists. This is the real conflict of interest.
Many have questions around the suitability of such individuals to police the present never mind police the past.
We support the creation of a central archive facility and the production of an historical timeline by independent historians but we are deeply concerned that within such an archive that intelligence, rumour and supposition would be given equal credibility to the sharing of experiences which pass evidential-based tests.
We welcome the development that the Republic of Ireland is to become a more willing contributor of its archive material but we would hold concerns around the willingness of certain political parties to show good faith on these issues in the event of there being a newly constructed Dail government.
This is why robust legislation would require developing now. This ‘good faith’ issue does not arise in UK national politics irrespective of the composition of a future government.
Point 53: “In the context of the work of the IRG (Implementation and Reconciliation Group), the UK and Irish governments will consider statements of acknowledgement and would expect others to do the same.”
There is no commitment by terrorist organisations to make account for their actions. The basic fundamental yet again side-stepped in this agreement is the agreeing of an accord by participant political parties that states ‘the use of violence for the furtherance of a stated political objective was not and can never be justified’.
The Stormont House Agreement may have lost its references to ‘conflict’ and other language which diminishes the effects of terrorism but within the meat of the proposals exist structures which have the potential to deliver this very outcome.
‘The past’ should never have become a horse-trading issue with welfare reform and other financial issues connected to the retention of the Stormont institutions and it must not be bulldozed through to placate republicans.
Innocent Victims United Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh