The Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture & Tradition held an engagement session on Thursday November 17 2016 at NICVA in Belfast supposedly for representatives of the ‘victims sector’,
In reality many of those attending (outside of the commissioners and secretariat staff) were Sinn Fein/PIRA personnel or those who would justify the actions of terrorists in murdering their own neighbours.
They were representatives of those who created victims and survivors.
Nevertheless Ken Funston (SEFF’s Advocacy Services Manager) and myself made a robust case on behalf of the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism.
We made it clear that illegal terrorist memorials and other graffiti and paraphernalia that glorifies terrorism must also factor within the work of the commission and its future recommendations but we made it clear that such public showings of terror are CRIMINAL and must be treated as such – that they do not represent identity, culture or tradition.
A UDA memorial and an IRA memorial going up in tandem does not represent equality or a 1-1 score draw, rather it represents a 2-0 defeat for victims and common decency.
We have real fears that the work of commission will be ‘Belfast centric’. If that is the case then just like all other commissions before them, they will have failed to grasp the realities of how the ‘Troubles’ was experienced very differently dependent on where you happened to live within Northern Ireland.
It is up to this commission to prove us wrong and their starting point must be a commitment to the rule of law, both in the present but also in respect of ‘The Past.’
If they feed the lie that permeates daily from some quarters which enables people to pass off murder and mayhem as a ‘narrative’ and perspective which should be somehow given credibility then they will fail like all those who have gone before them. This society needs re-calibrated. Paying off terrorism and those who propagate that criminal ideology must end once and for all.
Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman Innocent Victims United