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HTR Statement on the Report of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
9 November 2020
Healing Through Remembering (HTR) has reviewed the report of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) and welcomes its criticism of the Government’s brief legacy proposals of last March. However, the NIAC call for further consultation reinforces the sense of “Groundhog Day” for the thousands of individuals and hundreds of organisations that are now suffering the consequences of public consultation-fatigue when it comes to yet one more round of proposals on dealing with the past. Victims and survivors have been disregarded and forgotten about. The British and Irish Governments and the political parties of Northern Ireland need to take action now.
There have been numerous consultations in the last 20 years including, NIAC’s Ways of Dealing with Northern Ireland’s Past (2004), the Consultative Group on the Past Report (2009), the Panel of the Parties Report (2013) and the Stormont House Agreement (Report 2014, consultation 2018). Draft legislation has been prepared for some elements of the Stormont House Agreement. While some concerns remain about elements of it, we are confident that these can be worked through at political level.
In those political considerations, there is available at grassroots level a significant amount of work and research that has been accomplished in this area. There is a substantial range of skills and experience among a diverse range of groups working on the ground that have been focused upon addressing the past. It is this sustained wisdom and learning that should inform the parliamentary debates and decisions on this issue.
It is our hope that the NIAC report will create the opportunity to bring this important issue to a just and equitable end, while drawing on community and cross-community experience. To ensure a peaceful future it is important that the legacy of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland is properly addressed and that proposals to address it are implemented now. No more consultation please. The time for decision and action is long past due.