The legacy of the Troubles is not being prioritised with the urgency and respect victims deserve, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Emer Currie, Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Northern Ireland was speaking following the release of the Interim Report of the Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee into the British Government’s most recent legacy proposals.
Senator Currie said “To achieve a shared future we must deal with the past. The reality is that no one can wait any longer for progress in addressing the legacy of the Troubles, least of all victims, survivors and their families.
“Victims have been led up the garden path too many times before. The Stormont House Agreement in 2014 outlined a comprehensive framework of legacy institutions to deal with our painful past, but that framework was not implemented and what then followed was a three year wait for the main parties to reform the Executive.
“When the Executive did reform in January 2020 under the multilateral agreement “New Decade, New Approach”, it contained the commitment that those same institutions would be implemented within 100 days.
“300 days later there is still no clear path forward. The British Government instead released flimsy proposals in March that reneged on the broader principles of the Stormont House agreement and the multi-lateral basis on which they were agreed. Furthermore they have yet to consult with victims in any meaningful way.
“During the summer, innocent victims from all communities and none, had to bring the Northern Ireland Executive to the High Court to ensure the advancement of a long-awaited Troubles victim payment scheme, because of a standoff between the DUP and Sinn Féin. They were then insulted by Martina Anderson MLA who referred to them in the incredibly hurtful way as those who fought Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. To this day the Victim Payment scheme is yet to commence.
“It is time for Westminster to honour the principles on which the Stormont House Agreement legacy commitments were made – to uphold the rule of law and reconciliation, and to put victims front and centre of the process.
“There has been much focus of late on our shared future, but we still need to find a way to try to deal with the past”, Senator Currie concluded.