Meeting on dealing with the the past sees a call for a unified approach

From left to right: Kate Nash, Paidrigin Drinan, John McStay who chaired the meeting, Raymond McCord and Helen Deery.
From left to right: Kate Nash, Paidrigin Drinan, John McStay who chaired the meeting, Raymond McCord and Helen Deery.

A public meeting at the City Hotel last week concluded with a call for a unified approach to the examination of ‘Troubles’ related murders.

In recent weeks some relatives of those killed in the ‘Troubles’ have slammed proposed legislation aimed at dealing with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland and have claimed that the proposals amount to little more than allowing the British state to cover up their role in the conflict.

SDLP MP for Foyle Mark Durkan who addressed the meeting in the City Hotel.

SDLP MP for Foyle Mark Durkan who addressed the meeting in the City Hotel.

How to deal with the legacy of the ‘Troubles’ has been a central part of the ongoing negotiations in Belfast in the last few weeks as politicians attempt to find a solution to the political impasse at Stormont.

The well attended meeting in Derry last Thursday evening heard Kate Nash, whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, lambast the handling of the examination of ‘Troubles’ related cases by the British because of a lack of consultation on the issue.

“My brother William remains a statistic. He was aimed at and murdered. It was a deliberate act. He was murdered by a member of the Parachute Regiment when he was only 19. Britain was not a neutral party in this and Bloody Sunday is not a historical case, it is a live investigation,” she said.

Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF in 1997 told the meeting that the proposed mechanisms for dealing with the past was “no good for victims”.

He contended that: “The document was for the state to ensure the truth does not come out and victims do not get justice.

“Police papers show that those who murdered my son were paid agents of the state. There are records of conversations with police handlers where they confessed to murders and were paid for it.”

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan attended the meeting and stated that he believed that any legislation on dealing with the past should not be formulated in private as it has been during negotiations on the Stormont House Agreement but should be subject to a “full and proper consultation.”

Speaking about various previous proposals on dealing with the past Mr Durkan said: “Eames-Bradley was better than Haass and Haass was better than Stormont House.

“There is a need to make sure there is something to address the past and it has to work on proper terms and some of these issues have been brought out.

“In terms of the draft legislation, national security is shoe horned in on every possible clause. It is not just about the disclosure of information to any of these agencies that are being set up, it is about control of that and that there would be reference even then to the Secretary of State. That is completely wrong and we have consistently opposed that.”

“The draft clauses were not negotiated or agreed by the parties. They were prepared by officials.”

Whilst it was agreed that the delay in the tabling of the legislation constituted a minor victory for victims relatives who have opposed it, former solicitor Padraigin Drinan warned those in attendance to be guarded against the tabling of the paper at Westminster at which point it would become very difficult to change or halt it entirely.

The meeting concluded with those in attendance agreeing to create an informal network of victims relatives to disseminate all relevant information in relation to the legacy of the conflict.