Editorial - Have they learned nothing?

Secrets can often do more harm than facts when it comes to our troubled history.

The news that the classified government files into the death of Derry man Sammy Devenny in 1969 - regarded as one of the first victims of the conflict here - are to remain secret until 2022 at least further highlights the British government’s extremely dubious record on dealing with the past.

Have they learned nothing from the last 20 years in the North?

Time and again information that the government tried to keep secret relating to countless murders, miscarriages of justice, and acts of collusion have been uncovered and made public by dedicated human rights campaigners.

The more those in authority try to hide information the greater their embarrassment when it eventually comes out.

And this is not confined to events from more than 40 years ago.

The culture of secrecy still informs policy and attitudes to justice.

This refusal to deal with the past by hiding behind veils of secrecy gives cover to those who are failing to confront the legacy of the past and its impact on the present.

Throughout the Haass talks unionists avoided the elements of the process dealing with the past. By continuing to bury vital information in its classified archives the British government is giving carte blanche to such behaviour.

Instead of chasing conspiracies and looking for information where there is none, the British government and its supporters in the North should live up to their responsibilities by divulging the wealth of information contained in official archives which could shed light on so many incidents and, more importantly, give comfort to families still searching for justice.