Meath Peace Group Talks
No. 66 – ‘Making Peace with the Past – Options for Truth Recovery’
Monday 23 April, 2007
St. Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co. Meath
Kate Turner (Coordinator, Healing Through Remembering)
(Members of Truth Recovery and Acknowledgment Sub-group, Healing Through Remembering)
Dr Hazlett Lynch (West Tyrone Voice victims’ group)
Margaret Urwin (Justice for the Forgotten group)
Most Rev. Dr Richard Clarke (Bishop of Meath and Kildare)
Opening words: John Clancy (Meath Peace Group)
Responses from HTR group
Questions and comments
Closing words: Bishop Richard Clarke and Canon John Clarke
©Meath Peace Group
‘Making peace with the past – options for truth recovery’
Welcome and introduction: John Clancy (Meath Peace Group)
“Good evening. Before I hand you over to our guest chair tonight, Bishop Richard Clarke, may I first of all welcome you. This is our 66th public talk, we have been going for 14 years and I would like to thank the Columbans for the facility they have provided us over the years. Just to reflect, when we were looking at this talk, ‘Making Peace with the Past’, some thoughts came into my mind and if I may share them with you: I just wonder over the 30 years of the terrible violence and mayhem that we have had on this island whether I could have done more in relation to standing up and saying ‘no, this can’t go on.’ And I often think that if some of us had stood up 20 years ago – maybe some did but I certainly didn’t – maybe some of the people here who are victims might not be here tonight. I reflected on that and I reflect further in relation to a famous author, Bruno Bettelheim, in his book Survival where he talked about him growing up in Germany in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and how Nazism came and his people did not stand up and say ‘no’ in the beginning. And he often put down to himself and to his immediate family a blame that he felt he shared for not standing up to the violence because his view was that, if they had, maybe what happened to others would not have happened. And now I’ll hand you over to Bishop Clarke. Thank you.”
Chair: Dr. Richard Clarke (Bishop of Meath and Kildare):
“Well, first of all good evening everyone and you are very welcome. Our theme for tonight is how we try to – not make sense of the past – but how we somehow use the past in a way that will bring us forward into the future. The main plank of the first part is going to be presented to us by a group from Northern Ireland, Healing Through Remembering, and they are a group of quite different people coming from quite different backgrounds and quite different interests. We’re fairly well spread out here but I’ll try and introduce the panel in the order in which they are sitting rather than which group they belong to. Over to the left is Alan Wardle of the Healing Through Remembering group, next to him is Dr Hazlett Lynch of the West Tyrone Voice which is a way of helping those who have been the victims of terrorist violence in that part of Northern Ireland, right beside me is Margaret Urwin who is from a southern group the Justice for the Forgotten which began really in response to the bombings – we think always of the Monaghan and Dublin bombings of 1974 but of course there were bombings before that as well. On my right is Kate Turner of the Healing Through Remembering group, next are Irwin Turbitt and Pat Conway of the same group.
“We are going to divide this into two parts…. The theme of the whole evening is really how we make peace with the past to move into the future. Kate will introduce the work of Healing Through Remembering and in particular their report Making Peace with the Past. I will then ask for a response to what we have heard from Hazlett Lynch of West Tyrone Voice, and then a further response from Margaret Urwin of Justice for the Forgotten, and then we will open it to the floor.
“So, if we may begin with you Kate, thank you very much indeed.”
1. Kate Turner (Coordinator, Healing Through Remembering)
“Hello. Thank you very much for coming here tonight. We’re very glad to see you all. I’m Kate Turner, coordinator of Healing Through Remembering which is a non-governmental organisation, an independently funded organisation that consists of a membership that work together looking at issues dealing with the past. I am the coordinator because we are quite clear that the staff don’t direct the direction the organisation goes in, it is very much led by the members. And so when we have events, while I’ll come and talk, we do make try and make sure that we have some of the membership with us. As they’re going to present the report to you, I’m going to ask them now to introduce themselves …[see biographical notes at end of this report].
“This is one of a range of meetings we are holding. We are holding some public meetings and we are also holding some partnership meetings, where we are working in liaison with another organisation. So we are very glad that the Meath Peace Group has invited us to have this shared evening with them. We wanted to have an opportunity to share with people what is in this report and to hear their thoughts and questions on this issue.
Healing Through Remembering project: “Healing Through Remembering began with some ad hoc meetings back in 1999 and a report in 2000 that was looking at how do we deal with the past in order to build a better future. We discovered that people were very interested in this debate and a small group of us invited a range of individuals to form a board of people from very different backgrounds, people who have been affected by the conflict, involved in the conflict, from churches, from the community sector, academics, bringing them all together in a room. They spent some time discussing with each other how they would agree to actually work together and then implementing some work around this area. They carried out a public consultation and that led to a report in 2002. So the report is based on the public consultation and then on the views of that diverse range of people. And it identified five different areas that they felt were potential ways to deal with the past to build a better future. They are seen as a package, so no one of them is seen as the way to do it. They’re not all seen as ideas that need to be followed through but ideas that need to be examined as to possibilities, and if they are possible, how should they be carried out and by whom.
Areas of work: “So, in no particular order, they are: a collective storytelling process, a network of commemoration and remembering projects, a living memorial museum, a day of reflection and acknowledgement leading to the discussion on truth recovery. There was a 6th recommendation, and that was that this diverse range of people, who had begun by not wanting to stay in the same room, thought that not only should they continue to
work together but that they should invite more people to be part of it, and that there should be a Healing Through Remembering initiative, which should be a place, an organisation, where people from even more different backgrounds could come together to debate these five areas.
Sub-groups: “In 2003 we became a limited company and in 2004 we set up what we call sub-groups, so we have a group looking at each of those five recommendations that I mentioned. In forming these groups, we tried not just to bring together people who came from the different backgrounds I have already mentioned, but also people who felt that maybe the recommendation was or wasn’t a good idea. So for example it’s not just a collection of people who think there should be collective story-telling. There are people in the group who feel that collective story-telling will damage community story-telling. So the debates within the room can be quite robust in all sorts of different ways.
Truth recovery and acknowledgment: “This report ‘Making Peace with the Past’ – you’ve all had the executive summary, there are some full reports on the desk – comes from the Truth Recovery and Acknowledgment group. That group has a very diverse membership, they come from loyalist, republican, British Army and police backgrounds, as well as individuals from different faith backgrounds, victims groups, academics and community activists.
“They felt that there were two main issues at work that they needed to look at: one was acknowledgement and the other was truth recovery. They carried out some research and they have a discussion paper on ‘Acknowledgment and its role in preventing future violence’ which is one area they are looking at. The area of truth recovery in the original report was seen as something that should be debated after there had been a full discussion on acknowledgment.
Changing the debate and the question: “But in the time between that report and the group being founded, they felt that this issue was already something that was very much being publicly discussed. But they felt that the difficulty was that the discussion was: ‘should Northern Ireland have a South African style truth and reconciliation commission, yes or no?’ And that that’s not the right question. So they decided to find a way to change the debate from being about ‘should we have a South African type truth and reconciliation commission?’ to ‘what do we actually need to do about looking at truth and truth recovery?’ The views within the group are very diverse across the possibilities on that. They felt that what they needed to do was have a more informed debate and so they commissioned this report. They hope that it will facilitate an open, honest and inclusive debate on the issue of truth recovery, and they are now each going to present to you a section of the report.”
2. Irwin Turbitt (retired assistant chief constable with PSNI, member of Healing Through Remembering sub-group): “I am going to talk about the process by which the report came into existence. The one person who is very important with regard to that is Kieran McEvoy, Professor of Transitional Justice at Queen’s University in Belfast. He provided us with a great deal of research, knowledge and experience about various other wider issues with regard to this that, I have to say, I was not really in any way familiar with until we started this. The report that we are introducing to you – you have an executive summary – took us 18 months to produce. Over that 18 month period we met regularly in a variety of manners, sometimes like this for a couple of hours, sometimes in a hotel somewhere for a couple of days. And I think everybody learned quite a lot as they went through those series of meetings. They learned a lot about themselves and about each other as well as about truth recovery. Our aim was to try and shape a lot of the issues relating to truth recovery in a way that would enable some more structured discussion, and, as Kate has already said, we are trying desperately to get away from the ‘should we do a South Africa, yes or no?’ approach, which is something I believe we’re very good at in Northern Ireland, we’re very good at trying to make things very simple and very oppositional.
“And so we wanted to look at a whole range of issues with regard to truth recovery. We wanted to look at issues relating to victims, the right to a remedy in law and in fact, the right to truth, right to reparations and issues around amnesty.
International models: “We also wanted to look at other examples of truth recovery. Again one thing I think we are very good at in Northern Ireland is thinking that we are the only people who have this sort of problem and we spend a lot of time looking in at ourselves. So we looked at models that have been used in, for example, Chile, Guatemala, obviously South Africa, East Timor and Uganda amongst other places.
Local models: inquiries and legal cases: “And then we wanted to look at what was happening locally. There is a sort of a view that we shouldn’t do truth recovery in Northern Ireland, that’s put forward by some people. But that ignores the fact that we are doing it, the question is, is the way we are doing it the way that we are comfortable with, and are we happy for that to continue? And that is one of the options that Pat will discuss in a couple of minutes. So there are various public inquiries either ongoing or completed or nearing completion. There are issues around legal challenges to truth, the European Convention on Human Rights – a number of widely regarded cases of the European Court have been in regard to Northern Ireland issues. There are a number of policing issues: clearly the three Stevens’ inquiries, the Patten Commission into policing generally and now the Historical Inquiries Team which the current Chief Constable has set up as a way of putting a box around the outstanding murder investigations and to commit a significant amount of funding, but not an open-ended amount of funding, into the re-examination of a number of these murders. Then there was the on-the-run legislation which some people may remember, which was a very hasty attempt, in my view, to try and put through a piece of legislation that turned out not to be very well thought out and collapsed when it was subject to debate. And of course there’s a whole variety of victims’ initiatives and community initiatives.
Making Peace with the Past report: “So we were trying to look at a variety of things that are happening locally as well as a variety of the things that have happened internationally, and then work all that through our various thought processes and our collective, and not so collective, discussions, and produce a report that we were all prepared to put our names to. And for me that’s one of the most important things about the report. It’s easy to get hung up on discussing the five options and I’m sure we will do that a bit this evening. But I want to make sure that everybody takes time to look towards the back of the report, at the people who have produced the report, and then think about the value of a group of people like that being able to spend 18 months working through these difficult issues and producing a report. It’s not our intention to make the recommendations in the report as things we are prepared to lobby for, it’s about trying to demonstrate that people who would traditionally have been against each other, sometimes in a very violent way, are now in a position where they can discuss very difficult issues and come to a conclusion that we think will help move forward the debate around this. So I’ll just ask Pat now to outline the five options that we put forward in the report for discussion.”
3. Pat Conway (Director of Services, Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, and member of Healing Through Remembering group):
“Hello, I’m Pat Conway… As Irwin says, we went into this and I think emerged with these five models, and we are not seeking to lobby on behalf of any one of them. What could emerge is either nothing, a synthesis of these five models as presented, one of the five models, or something totally new. And that is what we are hoping to do in these discussions, to generate that debate and discussion and I think we are open to – if there is anything out there that could be of assistance you will have a very willing audience to respond to.
Models for truth recovery examined in the report:
(1) Drawing a line under the past: “The first option – we call it ‘drawing a line under the past’, it is also known as the ‘do nothing else’ option. It is recognising the fact that there are a range of truth recovery processes that exist currently: there’s the Historical Enquiries Team, the Police Ombudsman, inquiries such as Bloody Sunday or Cory, the inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, victims’ initiatives, legal challenges, community initiatives, release of information, policing initiatives such as the Patten Commission and the Stevens’ inquiries and the on-the-runs legislation, which was referred to, The attempt to implement legislation regarding on-the-runs failed. So you have all these current methods of dealing with the past. That’s the first option.
(2) Internal organisation investigations. “The second option is around internal organisational investigations and that would apply to security forces, intelligence services, combatant organisations, republican and loyalist organisations, and it would also involve victims. And the idea there would be that those three sectors – security forces, combatant organisations and victims – would feed into a central body and that eventually a report would be produced.
Observations and comments on 1st option: “If we could just go back to the first option, I forgot to mention the issues that arose out of that. In the report, and it’s very clearly laid out, there are discussions about: ‘Is the conflict over?’ ‘Is the past too painful for further truth recovery?’ ‘Further truth recovery is unnecessary’ – there were a lot of people who felt that. ‘Truth recovery of itself could be politically destabilising.’ ‘Truth recovery is a republican Trojan horse’. ‘Truth recovery would contribute to the further criminalisation of loyalism’. And an observation that is held by a significant number of people that ‘genuine truth recovery will never happen.’
Observations on 2nd option: “In the internal organisational option, the strengths that people took note of were: ‘It could facilitate ex-combatants to contribute to the process of post-conflict healing and reconciliation’. Another strength that was highlighted was that ‘the process within this particular model could contribute to the healing and closure for the victims of political violence who wish to access truth concerning past events.’
Obstacles and weaknesses of 2nd option: “Weaknesses, of which there are more, this will come as no surprise: there is an issue of trust and public confidence as to whether the security forces and the republican and loyalist organisations could actually be trusted, and there’s an issue of public confidence. There’s also a point that was made several times as: ‘why would organisations participate?’ Really that was around what’s in it for the organisations to tell the truth? What was the capacity of organisations to deliver truth? It was noted that there was a lack of institutional and political accountability and there was an issue about – you know victims’ needs might be beyond the State and non-State organisations that were involved in the conflict. So there are all sorts of obstacles and there were more obstacles and weaknesses than there were pros.
(3) Community-based bottom up truth recovery process. “Option 3 was around the community-based bottom-up truth recovery process. There are examples of where this happens already. There are various truth recovery attempts to try and gather all the information together at a community level. Ardoyne and new Lodge are examples. Material has been generated that charts the experiences of the conflict as felt at a community level. Shankill was another one. Essentially this could involve security forces, former combatants, victims and witnesses. And there would be a range of localised community hearings.
“I suppose most people think of that as geographical in the way that I have described it but it might be themes as well. There would be produced a range of individual localised reports that would be fed into an oversight body and then synthesised so that one report would emerge from that process.
Strengths of 3rd option: ‘There is a broad notion of community out there. If this were done, the importance of ownership and legitimacy would be recognised, certainly at a local level.’ ‘It reinforces established local networks and relationships should assist with the quality of data and information that was obtained.’ ‘It would take advantage of existing skills base and would help towards community development and healing.’ Those were the advantages that were articulated as applied to this particular model.
Obstacles: ‘Bottom-up truth recovery may facilitate institutional and security force denial.’ ‘The process may be too single-identity focussed i.e. there would be dangers that particularly powerful narratives could dominate in this particular option.’ ‘There could be capacity differences between different communities leading to uneven quality of data collected.’ That feeds into the notion that nationalist/republican communities are better developed than loyalist communities, and I know that is not an argument that is held by everybody but it is certainly has had currency in the past number of years. The last one here is that ‘victims’ needs beyond truth recovery is again an issue, the victims’ needs could be lost in the security forces and former combatants’.
(4) Truth recovery commission. “Option four I suppose is the one where most attention is focused on, particularly in the press. Kate and Irwin talked about this: the struggle that we had as a group to try and counter the media, particularly the media-inspired notion that a truth recovery model would have to look like the South African model. And that was the one which certainly the BBC and UTV in particular – any time they ran a considerate and thoughtful programme really flagged up the South African model as the one to go for and apply in Northern Ireland. And we would make phone calls to say ‘well actually no, it has to be generated from the conflict and not imported from another situation’.
“Essentially the truth recovery process as proposed here would involve individual applicants – victims, former combatants, security forces, intelligence services, witnesses. They would feed into a staffed executive that would have lawyers, researchers, investigators, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, PR and information, all of that highly serviced body. There’s an argument about whether you should have lawyers about the place because they might just be in it to make money. There’s another argument that you actually need them. There could be some discussion around an amnesty, if amnesty were an issue.
“A Truth Commission would be established by legislation. It would be international or at least have international membership. You would have emerging themes from that – public hearings, reports, recommendations and an implementation body.
Strengths/pros of truth commission model: ‘A truth commission or a truth recovery body is a fairly potent and powerful tool that is recognised internationally.’ ‘It would signify a serious societal attempt to deal with the past’. ‘It would be a chance to set the record straight’. ‘It could be a vehicle for reconciliation’. There’s this notion that truth recovery commissions have to happen at the end of a conflict when there are clear winners and losers. The issue in the north is there isn’t a clear definition of who won and who lost. If you look at South Africa, there is, and people know or have an idea of how difficult that process was, but perhaps a truth recovery commission could act as a vehicle for reconciliation and be part of bringing people together. It doesn’t necessarily need to happen at the end of a conflict and ultimately it could contribute to a basis for a new political accommodation, and, if you look at the way that things have moved rapidly in the past few weeks, I don’t think that we should rule that possibility out.
Obstacles and weaknesses: “The difficulties have been around garnering public support and confidence, resourcing of such a model and the danger of legalism as referred to previously, the potential negative role of lawyers, but they can be positive as well. And lastly, ensuring the participation of victims, ex-combatants and relevant institutions. Again it goes back to the question: why would anybody actually participate in such a process? What’s in it for them either as individuals or as organisations?”
(5) A commission of historical clarification. “The final model is a commission of historical clarification. This basically involves the gathering together … this is the notion of an agreed account of what the conflict was all about. That’s what underpins this. So you have international or local experts in British/Irish and European history. It would be a small staff. It would involve communities, in terms of gathering that information, what their perception and their particular experience of the conflict was. There would be written and oral submissions from individuals, organisations and community groups, fed into the researching, there would be admin and technical support. This would go to an international body and two volumes of reports would be produced: one a narrative of the conflict causes and consequences and secondly a volume that actually collates individual cases. And I think that’s really around arriving at an agreed narrative, that’s the philosophy that underpins this
Strengths: ‘The need for definitive official historical account of the conflict.’ ‘Less likely to generate intense political opposition’, and ‘the capacity to generate a public debate concerning the past’.
Weaknesses: ‘Danger of a narrow process.’ ‘Insufficient focus on the needs of victims from a top-down process.’ ‘Lack of legal powers would hamper truth recovery.’ And then there’s also the issue of research fatigue where Northern Ireland is the most heavily researched conflict post Second World War – there’s thousands and thousands of books and pamphlets.
So really the 5 options are being proposed as an aid for discussion and debate as to how to deal with the issue of truth recovery in order to build a better future.
“As was said before, it’s not a definitive list of options, they could be subtracted or added to, or synthesised. Further details regarding the process, strengths, weaknesses and obstacles are all outlined in greater detail in the report which is available at the top desk. Thank you.”
4. Alan Wardle (Shankill Stress and Trauma group and member of HTR group):
“Good evening everybody, my name is Alan Wardle. I work for Shankill Stress and Trauma group which is a victims’ organisation representing an inclusive victims’ sector in north Belfast and we are involved in cross-community activity, sharing resources across both communities in north and west Belfast. And I’ve been part of this subgroup of Healing Through Remembering for approximately two years now.”
Lack of capacity within unionism/loyalism: “Before I begin my little section, I just want to touch back on community-based approaches. Within unionism or loyalism, there was an attempt to address issues of the past.- EPIC and Belfast Alternatives – but the document at the time followed a number of documents. One was from the Eolas group on the Falls Road – this came under the umbrella of Coiste which is a support agency for republican ex-prisoners. This is a very extensive report. And the report that was published in the unionist community wasn’t so extensive. The point I am trying to get to is about that level of capacity between the two communities. I think that within unionism and loyalism, at the minute especially, there is a lack of capacity to engage with these processes. The evidence for that is based on the amount of money being put into those areas to raise the capacity of community development agencies, individuals as well as organisations. So I think there is a lack of equality of capacity between the two communities and I think the communities themselves would support that in certain areas.
Political generosity: “What I want to discuss now is the debate we had around the need for political generosity in this process of looking at truth recovery. And when we were having the discussions in the sub-group about the many many factors involved in looking at the past, we realised we were looking at very practical issues. Pat has highlighted some strengths and weaknesses, and principles and values attached to this process. The international models that we looked at, as previously mentioned, we came across instances where political generosity amongst political parties in those arenas was increased because of the process of looking at the past. There was an understanding amongst political parties that this was a very important issue and that they had a key role to play in that, and through the discussions that they went through in those post-conflict arenas, they began to work more closely together because these issues are relevant to individuals and very tight-knit communities. So it’s a valuable part of those discussions. “
“And we were aware that during our discussions and debates that the role of our own political parties and governments in this process would be very very important, and very necessary as well, in pushing this process forward and allowing the process to take place. And what we hoped was that engaging in this process, which again – as I say it’s a very personal and very intimate issue for a lot of people who have lost or suffered as a result of the conflict – through engaging in that process they would generate a sense of ownership amongst individuals and also political parties, but also a stronger leadership value that could be demonstrated to the communities through addressing these very difficult issues.
Leadership: “There is obviously an immense amount of mistrust and a lack of trust between the political parties and also between the primary communities involved in the conflict in the North. What we have seen in the last few weeks and months is a shift in that. There is political generosity amongst the political parties in the north – it’s been evident over many years but it has just come to the fore in recent months with the negotiations around devolved government. With those two political parties showing this amount of leadership, it has informed the rest of our communities and the rest of our society in the possibilities for the future. So in a way, although some people may have been saying there was a lack of leadership towards the communities, I believe that the political parties have actually inadvertently shown great leadership in their generosity towards processes of government and establishing a new Assembly in Northern Ireland. So there is that amount of political generosity.
“I think that this time, with the upcoming re-establishment of the Assembly, is a perfect opportunity to interject thoughts around this process, from individuals and from organisations, to look at the past. There have been some musings recently by the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, about too much money being spent on investigations and looking at the past. And then they’re being contradicted by NIO officials who say ‘it’s a possibility, we might put something in place’. And indeed the two prime ministers in the past have said that they would welcome some exploration of the past conflict in Northern Ireland.
Diversity of group: “In producing this report and having these debates, and, as has been said, the sub-group that was involved in producing this report is extremely diverse. One of the main things that attracted me to the work is the extreme diversity sitting down around a table with mutual respect, understanding and tolerance, and producing a report that could inform a very very important part of our society’s progression. And we take this report as a sign of hope, and as a possible model for a way forward for political parties to engage in the debate as well for individuals to engage in that debate in the future. Thank you very much.”
Kate Turner: “To reiterate: ‘Making Peace with the Past’– it’s not designed to offer a definitive view on how or whether Northern Ireland should have some form of truth recovery process. It’s meant as a tool to aid and facilitate and open an honest debate on realistic options for the future. We hope that this will start to generate some real possibilities for dealing with the past, and that, whatever happens, any decision made should be done in order to build a better future for everyone. This is all subject to consultation and debate, and that’s what we are trying to promote with this report. So we’re doing, as I said, a range of public meetings and partnership meetings. We’re coming to the end of our public meetings – the last one is next Monday in Dublin in Liberty Hall at 7 o’clock – but we are continuing to do partnership ones with organisations who get in touch with us and say they want to do them. We’re doing this because we want to hear back what people think, and we’re particularly glad to see both Hazlett and Margaret here today. When we respond to questions … I will speak from Healing Through Remembering and the rest of the group will be able to speak either in terms of what the group in Healing Through Remembering thought or felt, or else as themselves as individuals holding very different views.”
Dr Richard Clarke. “Well, first of all, thank you very much indeed to our four speakers for putting together that introduction to our discussion. But before we open the discussion to the floor we are going to hear two immediate responses. The first is from Hazlett Lynch from West Tyrone Voice, and I will ask Hazlett perhaps to explain a little bit more both about himself and about the organisation. He’s involved very much in the care of those who have been the innocent victims of terrorist violence in that part of Northern Ireland. I hand you now to Hazlett for a response. Thank you.”
5. Dr Hazlett Lynch (Director, West Tyrone Voice victims’ group)
“Thank you very much, Chairman. … It’s a tremendous privilege for me to have been asked by the Meath Peace Group to come here tonight. It’s not my first time to speak at the Meath Peace Group meetings and I want to bring the warmest greetings from West Tyrone Voice to the people here. I have two of our members with us, two committee members with us and I suppose they are my personal security – they are armed, so beware, long arms and short arms so just be very very careful!
“West Tyrone Voice was founded in 1999. It was founded on the heels of the early release of terrorist killers back onto the streets of Northern Ireland coming from the Good Friday Agreement or the Belfast Agreement. The group started at that time and it provides support and help and care for people who have been severely traumatised and injured as a direct result of terrorist attacks. My two friends with us tonight: one was set up for murder and was attacked at his home. The other man was attacked, he got three serious injuries on his body. That’s only two of our members. We’re working with something like 2, 500 direct and indirect beneficiaries. While we do this welfare work on the ground, we also have a lobbying role where we try to bring the concerns of the innocent victims of terrorist violence to the attention of governments, politicians, funding bodies and indeed anybody who would give us an ear.
Making Peace with the Past report: “Reading through this report, I didn’t read it word for word, but I had a fairly good read through as much of it as I could. One thing that struck me was why is it assumed that we need a truth recovery process? I always thought that in our own country – and indeed in other democratic countries – each of them did have a truth recovery system and it’s known as the criminal justice system. Is there another agenda at work? Are we onto this old gravy-train way of thinking where we create jobs for the boys and we attract more people into an already fairly affluent reconciliation industry? I can’t see any reason for jettisoning the criminal justice system in preference to some other ‘touchy feely’ organisation that will actually discriminate against victims, and the concern has been raised several times tonight about victims maybe not getting a fair crack of the whip. I think that embedded deeply within this report is that very real possibility, and I’ll say something more about that in a moment or two.
Making peace with the present: “I think as well that, given recent developments, this report has become redundant, obsolete. You’ll be sorry to hear that Kate, but I think it has. From a victims’ perspective, the big concern today is not just about making peace with the past, it’s about making peace with the current situation, the present. And that is causing massive problems for some of our people in West Tyrone Voice.
Questions: “And making peace with the past is generally understood as a most desirable aspiration, not least for victims, but right at the outset the report raises some very important questions that it assumes are answered the same way by all stakeholders. The answers to these questions impact directly on how this may or may not be done:
1) First of all, the old chestnut, what or who is a victim?
2) What or who caused their victimhood?
3) How can the relationship between victims and terrorists be repaired – if it is even possible to be repaired?
4) Why was the definition of victim as drawn up by OFM/DFM used uncritically in the report?
That is a massive disappointment, so far as I was concerned.
5) How does the use of the internationally-recognised phrase ‘ex-combatant’ to refer to both State and non-State actors, avoid implied moral equivalence between terrorists and security force personnel?
Since the debate over the definition of victim is highlighted in the report, why was the debate over the definition of ‘terrorist’ not even mentioned in the report? Terms such as ‘perpetrator’ and ‘paramilitary’ were used instead. They’re nicer words and you certainly don’t want to offend lovely kindly nice family-men murderers.
Terrorist campaign airbrushed: “On this last point, there seems to be a concerted effort being made by the various establishment bodies in Northern Ireland to airbrush the fact that there was a terrorist campaign in the province at all, and that those who died or were murdered lost their lives by some other means than terrorism. From a recovery aspect this erects a massive barrier for the many victims who are made to feel that what was visited upon them was a figment of their over-active imaginations, or they brought it on themselves. This is a very disappointing trend throughout the sectors and it does nothing to promote healing. In any case what is it that victims are to remember? If terrorist violence was not the instrumental cause of their suffering, what was? Was it burglary? Are they victims of burglary? Are they victims of a road traffic collision? Are they victims of rape? Are they victims of a mugging or something like that? None of these. The quasi-statutory bodies and the multitudes who work in the reconciliation industry today are not prepared, for purely politically correctness reasons, to give the instrumental cause of our victimhood its proper name, terrorism.
“My brother was murdered by terrorists, not by nice men, not by gentlemen, not by, as one of the chief terrorists in the Assembly was described by a party leader, the ‘honourable member’. There is nothing honourable about the activities of organisations like the Provisional IRA, nothing, and I think that as I read through this report I felt insulted by the sentiments expressed in that report because it took no cognisance at all of where I and people like me are coming from.
“Victims are being encouraged not to remember the real cause of their pain but they are being encouraged to remember a sanitised cause, whatever that is. Medical professionals of various kinds are seeking to treat pain whose origins are being ignored. Let me give you an illustration of this. Imagine a doctor arguing with his patient who presents with a stab wound. He tells his doctor that he is walking along the street when a gang jumped him, assaulted him, drew a knife and stabbed him. But the doctor knows best, he is educated. He’s been to university. And he re-explains what caused it. He tells his patient: ‘you were injured when you passed too close to a sharp object, incurring this wound. That’s what happened to you.’ The patient remonstrates with the doctor and repeats his original story: ‘I was stabbed by a gang of youths while walking along the street.’ ‘No you weren’t’ says the doctor. He knows it all you see. ‘It happened as I explained to you. If you had not been as close to the sharp object this would not have happened to you. It was your own fault.’ You see, the doctor knows best.
“And today the professionals, the educated classes, know best. Who are we to pit our experience against their specialist knowledge? As victims we’re told we were not injured by terrorists because such do not exist today in Northern Ireland. You’ll near nobody outside the victims’ sector talking about terrorists. The government doesn’t talk about terrorists, the police certainly don’t talk about terrorists, the funding bodies don’t talk about terrorists, the civil service doesn’t talk about terrorists. They have got nicer names for them.
“We suffered because our own coping mechanisms were inadequate for the demands that were placed upon them. So today’s do-gooders say in effect: ‘you were partly to blame for what happened to you, for you supported a regime that discriminated against a section of the community’.
Victims: That’s why, men and women, baby Jack, five months old, was murdered in Strabane by the Provisional IRA on the 19th of July 1972 when they detonated a bomb, showering him with broken glass and debris crushing his pram. He was responsible for what happened to him because he was a member of a society that allegedly discriminated against another section of the community. In a sense, he deserved it and he brought it on himself, and his young mother was from Cork. Or the unborn twins who were murdered by republican terrorists in Omagh on the 15th August, 1998, or the 20-month old baby girl whose life was also stolen from her so violently on that dreadful day. According to the experts these civilians only got what was their due. Why? Because they belonged to a ‘rogue state’ that practised injustice, discrimination etc. Or the 15-year old boy who worked as a milkman’s assistant, and the 9 year old girl, both of whom who were murdered by the Provisional IRA … in the Omagh atrocity on the 31st of July, 1972…….
Police and UDR casualties: “Take the 302 civilian police officers, my youngest brother was one of them, and the many off-duty UDR soldiers who were murdered by terrorists. Of what were they guilty? Of trying to keep their country from plunging into outright civil war. These were all civilians, together with all the other civilians who died at the hands of terrorist murderers.
“Now tell me, what kind of logic is prepared to twist the facts so grossly that they end up by making the people who died the reason for their own murders? And that is precisely what this report is in danger of doing. Yes these people died as a result of an explosive device but what is concealed is that the bomb device was placed there by terrorists, it didn’t just appear there.
“There is a discernible trend today to rewrite the history of Northern Ireland, a history that denies the activity of terrorist murders in the current campaign of genocide. Not only has this report deliberately avoided all references to terrorists, so also has the report drawn up by the community victim support officer from Sperrin Lakeland Trust, in Co. Fermanagh. It was received by our office in December last.
“And the…report which was drawn up by Queen’s University Belfast and launched on the 9th March 2007, just very recently. Not one of these three reports folks, and this ties us in very very much to this report, not one of them speaks about terrorists except where respondents use this term. It appears that the authors of these reports all work to the same principle, namely the avoidance of the term ‘terrorist’ to describe organisations like the Provisional IRA, INLA, UVF, UDA etc. When asked why this was done in the QUB report, the author said she ‘wanted to be politically correct’. So that was the agenda behind that particular report. She did not want to offend anybody. I challenged this view on the ground that whilst she did not want to offend the terrorists, it mattered little if they offended their victims.
“I suppose these authors felt themselves under some obligation to deliver what their paymasters were paying for. After all, ‘he who pays the piper…’ You see victims just do not matter. Making peace with the past is clearly not about helping victims recover from the heinous crimes perpetrated against them, but it is about finding ways of enabling terrorists to live with their demonic past. It’s about finding ways of easing their consciences, extending to them a form of respectability and offering them a way of sanitising their evil deeds, deeds that they would repeat if necessary, and three leading republicans actually made that statement in the media.
What were the last 40 years all about? “Further, there is a sense in which this report is not totally redundant given the institutionalised destabilisation of Northern Ireland by appeasing the terrorists who have sought to totally destroy our country. And people are asking with some justification, what were the last 40 years all about? Why were so many good people allowed to die? If the current political arrangement had been secured during Captain Terence O’Neill’s prime ministership in the late 1960s, these lives would have been saved. How then can the many innocent victims of subsequent years be aided in making peace with the past? How can victims come to terms with what the leaders of unionism have now done to them? The issue is not merely about making peace with the past, it is now about making peace with the present, as I said earlier. The present has had a re-triggering of trauma and anger for many. But not all victims feel that. Some victims, or people at least who call themselves victims, supported parties that wanted Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Some victims feel betrayed by those they trusted and they cannot understand the complete u-turn by the DUP etc. These are profound obstacles to any healing for many victims of PIRA terrorism, and for groups like ours that are working on the ground with these angry sufferers. Again, the personally ambitious do-gooders in Northern Ireland have won the day, it appears to the detriment of those who still carry heavy burdens from the past.
Airbrushing of terrorists: “This process, while talking frequently about victims and ignoring terrorists, is about airbrushing terrorists out of the picture and providing them with a way of rationalising what they have done and making it respectable. As a result, it creates the wrong impression that what victims claim has happened to them was not done by terrorists, as the victims call them, but by actors in a protracted conflict whose concerns were as valid as anybody else’s.
Acknowledgement: “It is interesting to note that Victim Support Northern Ireland was one of the two founding bodies of Healing Through Remembering. Victim Support deals with the relatively minor effects of offences, and has nothing to contribute to the situation in which I find myself. The report, I feel, lays too much weight on the views of people who come from this background who have not experienced what terrorist victims have suffered. Until there is proper acknowledgement of what exactly was done, any moves toward reconciliation for victims are a non-starter.
Drawing a line under the past: “The report talks about ‘drawing a line under the past’. For me this is not an option, nor is it an option for those who have suffered innocently in the terrorist campaign, namely the victims. It is as easy for a mother to forget the child that she bore as it is for terrorist victims to forget what was done to them. This is also a non-starter. It is even questionable morally whether innocent people should be expected to forget the past, thus betraying the memory of their loved ones. Is it right or proper to ask victims to forego justice in the interests of the greater good?
Truth commission: “A truth commission, where every witness has to tell the truth, sounds plausible until one remembers that the chief, not the deputy, victim-maker, Martin McGuinness, who is soon to rule legally over our country jointly with Ian Paisley, refused to say anything to the Saville Inquiry, the so-called Bloody Sunday inquiry, that would implicate other Provos. Indeed he refused to break his republican oath. That was more important to McGuinness than discovering the truth. The loyalist provos are no different. It is very unlikely that terrorists may be regarded as men of integrity and truthfulness, therefore expecting truth to emerge from this quarter is naïve. Indeed the government and its agencies will not tell the truth, something that seems to evade government ministers in many countries. Many officials have signed the Official Secrets Act so are bound by its requirements. Providing victims with the truth about what happened to their loved ones is woefully inadequate and does not satisfy the needs of all victims. What they need for recovery is satisfaction and this does not provide it. On a personal note, I know enough about my brother’s murder. What I now want is for those responsible to be brought to justice. I know who did it, I know where they are. Your country, as I think I said here before, is protecting them, providing for them, allowing them free movement and will refuse, though of course our police I don’t think they have ever asked for these guys to be extradited to Northern Ireland but the Republic’s government has refused for technicalities to sign the extradition papers for known terrorists.
“Unless and until this is done, everything else is woefully inadequate. Let’s face it folks, having an organisation like PIRA carrying out an internal investigation of those who are covered by the republican oath is ludicrous. It is most demeaning of reconciliation activists to even suggest that victims ask the PIRA to investigate the murders of their loved ones. Spare us that. Give us some dignity and some respect. If that is all this report can come up with it has been at best a waste of money and at worst a profound insult to the memories of our dead family members.
No reconciliation without justice: “I was saying to somebody over dinner that I was speaking to the man who headed up the inquiry into Sarajevo in Bosnia. That organisation has to deal with human rights abuses. And that gentleman told me there can be no reconciliation without justice. None. I said earlier there can be no reconciliation without acknowledgment. This suggestion that there will be no prosecutions, be no naming of names, is repugnant to decency. Political leadership does not require such a process to transform it, this has already been done through the medium of seismic acts of massive betrayal by unionist leaders, possibly the greatest act of betrayal that this island, if not western Europe, has ever witnessed.
“How can a process that retraumatises victims help resolve past grievances? Given that the vast majority in Northern Ireland support this new move, I think that only 13,000 of those who voted on the 7th March voted for parties who were opposed to putting terrorists at the heart of government. The message that is being conveyed by our current situation is that victims are backwoodsmen who have nothing to offer Northern Ireland. We just don’t count, you see. And that is where terrorist victims are at this moment in time, left re-traumatised, re-victimised, devastated, betrayed, furious and very very angry. What has happened politically in Northern Ireland in recent days renders this report obsolete.
Community-based bottom-up truth recovery: “This I think is farcical in the extreme. How can those who have taken a republican oath ever disclose the truth of what happened? This is a wee bit like expecting King Herod to investigate the killings of the innocent children in Bethlehem long ago. That’s what we are doing, that’s what we have reduced ourselves to, if the suggestions in this report are taken on board. Recording untold stories is rather voyeuristic and ought to be avoided, but there again the reconciliation industry is full of voyeurs which probably explains why this has been suggested. Victims are not interested primarily with community development and the report gives the lie to HTR’s real agenda which has precious little to do with victims or with truth, or with justice or reconciliation.
Recommendations: “What ought to be put in place then for those who have suffered most in the tragic years of terrorist violence that has blighted not only our beautiful country but many of its people? Just four brief things:
First of all, a renewed focus on the use of the already existing criminal justice system to facilitate truth recovery.
The sincerity of ‘former’ terrorist activists is to be tested regarding their commitment to reconciliation by requiring them to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about their involvement in terrorist outrages.
The security forces are to reveal what they can with an eye to matters of national security about their involvement in illegal activities
And finally, when confession has been made in court, justice must take its course and the victims provided with all the support they need in financial, social and moral terms and for as long as it takes. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.”
Chair (Dr. Richard Clarke): “Thank you very much to Hazlett. And now as a second response, I am going to ask Margaret Urwin from the Justice for the Forgotten group.
6. Margaret Urwin (Justice for the Forgotten)
“Thank you. I’m delighted to be here tonight to have a chance to speak to you on behalf of Justice for the Forgotten. My name is Margaret Urwin and I’ve been with the organisation now since 1993. Justice for the Forgotten represents the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May, 1974. Now that was the day when we had the greatest loss of life in the whole of the Troubles. We had 33 people plus an unborn baby killed in those bombings. We also represent the victims of the Dublin bombings of ’72 and ’73, in which three other people were killed, and we also assist many other victims of violence in this jurisdiction.
Healing Through Remembering report: “Unlike Hazlett, I very much welcome this report. I think it is very timely that it is happening now. I think there is a window of opportunity now with the new dispensation in the North, that we can look at all of this in a calmer manner than we have been able to do in the past. I would like to just say that I noticed that some of the speakers from the Healing Through Remembering kept referring to ‘Northern Ireland’ and having a truth commission for Northern Ireland. I think that if there is to be a truth commission it should include the Irish government as well, it has to include the whole of the island because there is a community of victims south of the border as well and I think that is very often forgotten, both north and south of the border. I think that if we are to have a truth commission it would have to include the British and Irish governments as well as all paramilitary groups who have existed since 1969 up to today.
Justice for the Forgotten: “We in Justice for the Forgotten can identify with some of the observations of Healing Through Remembering. Drawing a line under the past has not been an option for the victims that we represent. They are very determined to get to the truth and they have been fighting for the truth now since 1993. Our members have been forced to resort to different strategies to compel reluctant institutions towards truth recovery. These are some of the findings or observations in your report and we can really identify with them. We have long campaigned for a public enquiry because we saw no other viable option. We have taken court cases before both domestic and international courts, that is the High Court and the Supreme Court in Dublin, and also the European Court of Human Rights, and we only had inquests into the killings of these people only in 2004 – 30 years after the bombings occurred! And we have been and are hampered by cross-border jurisdictional issues.
“I would just like to share with you the efforts we have made over the years in relation to truth recovery:
History of the campaign: “From 1974 up until the early ‘90s, there was no campaign, there was no coming together of families or survivors for at least 16 years after the bombings and the campaign was started really by a trade unionist who had witnessed the carnage on that terrible day and he single-handedly went about getting a memorial erected and he also began to have a commemorative mass said in the Pro-Cathedral on the anniversary. I suppose the catalyst for the campaign was the Yorkshire television programme of 1993 which dealt with suspects on the Garda file and their connection with the Northern Ireland security forces. The programme also dealt with the short-lived Garda investigation and suggested a cover-up. From then we began demands for a public inquiry into these bombings. The Irish government managed the fall-out from this programme by procrastination and delay. It took nearly 2 years for the Minister for Justice to issue a 4-page report refuting the claims made in the programme and indeed refuting claims that weren’t made.
European Court of Human Rights: “In January, 1996, our lawyers came on board and they are still with us today, and Justice for the Forgotten as an organisation was founded then, A case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights against the British government for its failure, or the failure of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, to initiate a murder inquiry in Northern Ireland even though the bombings were planned there, the plans were assembled there, the cars were procured there and the perpetrators escaped back there. To assist with our case we sought discovery of Garda investigation files. This resulted in a case to the High Court which was lost on a technicality, and it was appealed to the Supreme Court and rejected. Then the European Court of Human Rights rejected the complaint on the basis of the time limitation which they said was 6 months after the broadcasting of the Yorkshire television programme. And this was a very low point for the campaign.
“However, in 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed and the Good Friday Agreement included the important paragraph declaring that the needs of the victims of the conflict should be addressed. And this led to the establishment of victims’ commissions in both jurisdictions, in Northern Ireland under Ken Bloomfield, and here under the former Tánaiste, John Wilson. John Wilson reported in August, 1999, and made many recommendations to address the needs of victims in terms of counselling and financial assistance. He also recommended a private inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and this was rejected by our organisation.
Hamilton-Barron inquiry: “Things moved on rapidly after that and we were invited to present our case for a public inquiry before a Joint Oireachtas Committee in November 1999. And this led to negotiations with the Taoiseach’s Department which resulted in the establishment of the Hamilton-Barron inquiry which was referred to earlier on. This was established in January 2000 and, although it was a private inquiry, it had some unique aspects to it in which we were able to make submissions to it, we were also given information on the people that had been interviewed by Judge Barron and so on. We expected it would take about 9 months. Unfortunately, it took almost 4 years to complete, only published in December 2003. This was followed by public hearings in early 2004 and they published their final report in March. And they recommended that a public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings should take place in Britain or Northern Ireland. In other words, they passed the buck. And they also recommended, under new legislation, a commission of investigation to take place into the Garda investigation and why it was wound up so quickly. As I said, the inquests were reopened and they went to full hearings in April and May and that encompassed the 30th anniversary of the bombings.
McEntee report: “The commission of investigation that had been recommended was set up in May 2005 under Patrick McEntee, Senior Counsel. This was an entirely private inquiry and his report, as you may be aware, was published only on the 4th of this month, almost 2 years after it was set up. This inquiry was something we never sought, it was something we never asked for, but we did cooperate with it because it was the only show in town. It was very unsatisfactory, we did not know what was happening in it, and indeed the report itself has been very disappointing. We have learned very little new information from this report.
“Also, just to say that as a result of our initiative, other cross-border attacks were investigated by Barron.] …It also lookedat murders carried out by this same gang which comprised loyalist paramilitaries, members of the RUC and members of the UDR. And this gang carried out many murders north of the border in this period of ’75, ’76, including the murders of members of the Miami Showband. These culminated in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee of November 2006. This is a cross-party committee and they concluded that collusion between British security forces and terrorists was behind many if not all of the atrocities considered in that report. And they referred to them as ‘acts of international terrorism’.
Oireachtas report: “The Joint Oireachtas Committee reported that the spectre of collusion was raised in their first report, that is the report on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. And they now said they had enough information to be fully satisfied not only that it occurred, but that it was widespread. They said the seriousness of this warrants direction from the Oireachtas and they recommended that there should be a full debate in both Dáil and Seanad on the issue of collusion since it is necessary, and I quote, ‘for there to be greater political impetus to highlight the fact that it occurred and the facts of its scale, and to identify measures to bring closures to the victims’. Now the Taoiseach is committed to holding these debates and we are very hopeful that they will happen before the General Election is called.
“Now no public inquiry, needless to say, was established in Britain, nor is one likely to be. If it were it would anyway come under the new Inquiries Bill which has been rejected by the Finucane family in the case of the murder of Pat Finucane. And we believe that a formal apology is needed for the incredible failures of the gardaí to maintain proper records and for the loss of files from both the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice. This is one of the main findings of the McEntee report – the absolute abysmal state of the Garda records in relation to the bombings.
“There has to be a formal acceptance by the Irish government that collusion was a factor in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and to acknowledge that the State was wrong to deny and repudiate such allegations, which it had done over several years.
Healing Through Remembering report: “Just to move on very quickly to respond to the report, as I said I think it is an extremely important report and, on behalf of Justice for the Forgotten, I want to congratulate the people who have been involved with it and have produced such a thorough report. I have read through it fairly carefully. I need to go through it again but I think it’s a wonderful idea that you were able to come up with the several different options and to be able to look at them in such an open and non-judgmental way.
Search for the truth: “As I have just outlined to you, we have tried to get some way of finding truth, of recovering the truth, and, despite all our efforts – I mean we have had some successes, we have achieved a lot, but we still haven’t got to where we want to be. Now we are not looking for recrimination, even though nobody ever went to jail for these bombings, nobody was ever charged even for these bombings. But we are not at this stage looking for retribution. What we are looking for, and what the families have looked for since 1993, is the truth as to what happened. That’s all they’re really looking for. And I think it may well be that we have explored so many different options for truth recovery that really it seems at this stage as if there may be no other way other than to have a form of truth commission, and that that truth commission should have a very important input from all victims, all of the victims should be able to have an input into how that is established. And, as I said, it’s so important, it’s not just the paramilitaries that have to be involved, although of course they all have to be involved, but also that both governments have to be involved in it, because it’s not only the British Government that has questions to answer, it’s also the Irish Government. So, with that, I’ll say thank you very much.”
Chair: Dr Richard Clarke: “Thank you very much indeed to Margaret, as indeed to Hazlett. Now, at this stage we move the discussion open to the floor, but I wonder before we do would anyone from the Healing Through Remembering report group want to make any response to either or both indeed of the responses to them? Thank you.”
RESPONSES FROM ‘HEALING THROUGH REMEMBERING’:
Kate Turner: “Thank you very much, Hazlett, for your comments. As we’ve said the Healing Through Remembering organisation and that sub-group in particular are a very diverse range of people. And there were a lot of lively discussions in the group about all sort of issues but in the very beginning it was largely around terminology before they could even begin to agree what they were talking about. On page 3 of the report you will see how we’ve outlined … some of that discussion. So, just to clarify, in terms of the use of the word ‘ex-combatants’, this refers broadly to former loyalist and republican activists who were involved in hostilities. British Army members or members of the RUC who were also involved in hostilities are generally referred to as the ‘security forces’. And members of the various intelligence agencies are referred to as such or as the ‘security forces’. The terminology reflects no value judgments on the actions of individuals or organisations. And you can see that in the models we have stuck to those different categories as well.
Victims: “On the term ‘victims’, we did decide to go with the OFM/DFM definition and we have a small paragraph in the report that outlines that we had a discussion about that and it was felt that the group needed to decide to use that definition, and that was the working definition. But they did so recognising that it was one that was not universally accepted, and that’s acknowledged in the report.
“In terms of the report and what it’s looking at and saying that truth recovery is one of the issues to be addressed, the group looked at their own membership and identified the gaps and then tried to seek views and opinions of those that weren’t sitting around the table. So there were a number of groups invited to meet the group many of whom felt that they were not able to do so because of the diversity of our group but we did ask them to feed in through members of the staff, or members of the sub-group, their views and concerns. So some of the issues that Hazlett has raised were fed in and the issue of justice in particular. And the sub-group commissioned a legal paper which looks at the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and analyses whether or not the legal professionals felt that there was likely to be prosecutions resulting from the HET because we were well aware that for a lot of people that was what they wanted. Unfortunately it was too late to go into this report but we have paper copies on the table there. It’s a legal paper so it’s written very legally. It basically weighs up the pros and cons and says there is some possibility but it highlights the difficulties that are very obvious like time and missing material, some of which we’ve heard from Margaret. And also that while there may be hope in some of the new advances in technology, the fact that that was not foreseen earlier on means that we are not likely to get much further in terms of prosecution. So we did look at that as one of the issues.
“I think the only thing to say is round truth recovery because truth recovery is not necessarily about saying what happened and who did it, but truth recovery is also about the story that is written. And that’s why the point that Hazlett raises about the re-writing of what happened and about how it is described… is something important that we do need to discuss, and we need to hear the range of views about that if we are going to go forward together.
Irwin Turbitt: “I just wanted to say something quite quickly, hopefully, which was to sort of express thanks to the group here for providing me with the opportunity to hear Dr Lynch because I found it very uncomfortable to listen to him, and that’s usually when you get the most insights and the most opportunity to learn. I’m disappointed that it took us to travel this far to hear him. I understand that he refused to come and speak to us when we were considering the preparation of the report and it’s a pity that that was the case but nonetheless I am glad that he found it possible to come here tonight.
Terrorism: “I don’t have a problem with the word ‘terrorist’ at all. I’m not a professional peace-maker in any sense, I don’t want anyone to think that I am. I haven’t made any money out of this at all, in fact it cost me money to be involved in this. So I don’t want anyone to think that I am in that category of people that Dr Lynch clearly doesn’t seem to be fond of. But this whole business makes us uncomfortable in lots of different ways, I mean one of the things that makes me very uncomfortable is having to recognise that, as an RUC officer, that there were terrorists in the RUC, that some members of the RUC engaged in terrorist activities. As someone who worked closely with the Ulster Defence Regiment, in fact worked with people who have been in jail for terrorist activities, I once had a supervising officer in the RUC who eventually served time in jail as a terrorist, I don’t feel comfortable recognising these people were terrorists.
“So there’s a lot of uncomfortableness around this whole issue but I think that if we are going to make progress we have got to get in a room together and we have got to discuss these things. And if all it takes is to use the word ‘terrorist’, then that’s not really a problem for me, but, equally, I think that using a particular word as a way of avoiding debates with people who you find it difficult to debate with I don’t think is helpful either.”
Pat Conway: “There’s a couple of points I would like to make. I actually agree in some respects with what Hazlett said, particularly with respect to the – he didn’t actually use the phrase, but I think what he meant was a sort of hierarchy of victims. And there was an impulse a few years ago that one shouldn’t talk about a hierarchy of victims and I personally believe that there was a hierarchy of victims. If I chose personally to engage in armed struggle, and I was making a conscious choice, a 9-month old child in a pram wasn’t making that choice, and I don’t believe that we have had that discussion in the public domain yet and I think it would be worth possibly revisiting that, and that may feed into a – if there ever was a truth commission and the issue of amnesty was on the table then I think that’s when the concept and reality will be re-introduced.
“I do think Hazlett’s contribution was marked by a huge feeling of betrayal all around him. And that’s what I picked up from that. Everybody around him seems to have sold out except for the 13,000 people who didn’t vote for the devolved Assembly being restored. And I don’t know what to do about that. If somebody feels that sense of betrayal so deeply, and has a view of history, and I wasn’t aware that he had the opportunity to make that history, to present that history, to Healing Through Remembering and I wish that he had. In terms of monopoly of hurt, I got that from Hazlett as well, and I was a bit disappointed at that, you know there isn’t a monopoly of hurt.
Why should we stop seeking truth? “I do take issue with the ‘touchy feely’ stuff. If the criminal justice system that Hazlett has so much faith in has failed to deliver truth then surely why would we stop seeking truth? Why would we stop doing that? And I don’t believe that that’s a sort of a touchy-feely aspiration. I think that’s fundamental. And if the existing processes could deliver and were delivering, we wouldn’t be sitting here now. And there’s a fact that there are people out there who are seeking, searching for truth, and they don’t feel they have it. You know Hazlett and many other people know who murdered their loved ones and they have a pretty good idea who it was, either publicly or privately. And they are probably fairly accurate, they are probably right. It was an intimate conflict, people knew who the ‘enemy’ were. Why wouldn’t you want the truth? If the truth isn’t accessible by existing mechanisms why wouldn’t you look for a mechanism, or a series of mechanisms, that is actually going to deliver that for you, if that is what you want? And there are many people who want to draw a line under the sand, and this report does recognise that there is a constituency of people out there and they don’t want to know any more, and that’s fine. I mean nobody is going to impose a solution on people.
“I think, in terms of what Margaret was saying, she made the point about it being a kind of Northern Ireland specific… and we did have a lot of discussion, early on in the document, we were very clear to talk about the conflict ‘in and about Northern Ireland’, it wasn’t just about the 6 counties if you like, it’s about what happened in England, in the States, in Europe, wherever the conflict actually touched people.
Normalisation of the conflict: “I think also there’s been a lot of discussion tonight about combatants and the British and Irish governments which Margaret introduced. We actually went further and talked about issues of acknowledgment and culpability by other organisations such as the churches, statutory organisations. I work for social services and during the height of the conflict social services ignored the fact that there was a conflict raging around it. It just wasn’t referenced. I remember, I came back from London, wrote a court report on behalf of some 14/15-year old kid up in court, from West Belfast. It was very apparent that the conflict had impinged on that kid’s life. I had written a paragraph in the court report and I was told by my boss ‘don’t put that in because the judge won’t acknowledge or recognise it, that’s happening everybody’. Now that kind of normalised the conflict and an awful lot of that stuff went on.
Industry: “And I would actually agree with Hazlett that there has been an industry, he called it a peace and reconciliation or a trauma industry and all the rest of it. When people needed services to address very traumatic events that happened in their lives quite simply those services did not exist.
“And it was only post-1994 you saw the growth in development of trauma groups, the victims’ groups mushroomed, I think there are something like 65 identifiable victims’ groups now. So I would actually agree with that, there has been a whole development of an industry there.
Acknowledgment: “And personally I would have preferred – there was a paper and it’s been referenced and I think there’s a copy of it over there, it’s about acknowledgment. And maybe you need acknowledgment before you actually address – whatever model it is you are going for, whatever synthesis or combination of models, it is out there. I think unless that acknowledgment, I suppose what I took from Hazlett’s contribution was, I mean I didn’t hear an acknowledgment that there are other organisations that had responsibilities and they were culpable to an extent, and I think that needs to be addressed. I think personally, if there was a truth commission established that you would need discussion around acknowledgment. And you certainly don’t get it from – I mean I was in London around the time when the Brazilian was killed and the head of the Met, the Commissioner, Ian Blair, came on within 24 hours of that guy being killed and said ‘we have a shoot to kill policy’. Now that was denied totally in and about the North, and yet within 24 hours of this guy being killed it’s ok to say that. And, as a consequence we are being contacted by Muslim communities in Britain who … are asking how did it work for you guys? So there are lessons to be learned. Rather than this being an introverted inward-looking exercise that was purely about dealing with the past and then that’s it. Personally I believe that there are lessons that can be transferred to other jurisdictions and for other futures.”
Alan Wardle: “Just briefly because I am very conscious that I think we really need to get your opinions and your own points on what we discussed here tonight. Just two things. Hazlett and I come from a victims’ sector but from two different points of view within that victims’ sector. I respect Hazlett’s points of view, I also acknowledge his anger about his personal pain in the past, and the pain of the people he represents. But what I would say is in coming to our discussions and drawing up these options – and that’s all they are, just options, not telling people what to do – we understood that and we respected the individual rights and the individual needs of those people who submitted information, in reports and in giving their stories and everything else. And what I would say is that if we are to move forward, and I think we need to move forward, we need to understand that individual rights are as important as our own. And we need to respect those rights and we need to understand other without denying our own pain, our own loss or our own support. So I would just like to say that.
Anger: “Hazlett made one interesting point as well which was he referred to the people that he represents as angry sufferers. Now from my own point of view in providing psychological services to traumatised individuals, anger leads to more conflict. That’s just a fact of life, it’s one of the fundamental driving forces of humanity. As I said before, I respect people’s loss and pain and grief. I have suffered as well on several occasions and I would like people to understand and respect my point of view as well. But, from a point of view of anger driving that point of view I think there are different ways forward. But I’m really keen to get the points of view of the audience, I’m sure we all are, and I would just like to mirror what the rest of my colleagues stated previously.”
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Chair: “Thank you all. We probably only have 20-25 minutes left but what I would like is that people who would like to make comments to try and keep them fairly short rather than long statements, and when it comes to questions that need a response I will put it but I just want one response from a member of the team, please if we could just to try and keep it going.”
Q.1. Leslie Finlay (West Tyrone Voice): “….It was very interesting listening to what was going on there and talking about how we would forget the past. Hazlett brought up a good point there – how do you manage the future and the present? I don’t know of you people here know that there was 4 bombs left around Strabane and Sion Mills in the last week. It doesn’t reach international newspapers because somebody has an agenda to keep the lid over what is going on at the minute. Over the last year there has been 9 bombs left in the Strabane/Sion Mills area. They’re not broadcasting them, they might get a snip of two inches long in the paper. And this is what we’re up against. And we can see now the situation where we’re going back to what went on at the start of the troubles.
“Because around our area, way back at the start of the troubles, they painted letter boxes and telephone boxes green, a fairly innocuous sort of thing to do like. And we reckoned that was blooding in the young terrorists. Now they graduated from that to burning Orange halls and attacking Orange halls. They’re at that at the minute. There was an Orange hall burned last night in Belfast. Now is that blooding in to start another wave of terrorism? We’re talking about the past but we haven’t stopped it so forget about going back into the past until we get it stopped because it’s not stopped. We had a man who went into the Strabane Chronicle newspaper last week, Willie G…, one of the leading lights of the new either Continuity or Real IRA, they’re all the same to me, in Strabane. It seems there were some people put under threat in the nationalist end …. and he has written in the public street, a foot long in the Chronicle that he will personally deal, or his organisation will personally deal with somebody if there is anybody in their organisation touched. So where are we? We’re no different from where we were 20 years ago. It’s still there.
“You are talking about truth and reconciliation. I have never seen yet a terrorist who tells the truth. They got up and they lied through their teeth anytime they were caught.
Lost Lives: “Another thing that was never mentioned … was that the ‘black book’ – you all know what I am talking about when I mention the ‘black book, Lost Lives – now it was compiled by a lot of people including Fr Murray from Carrickmore so there were outputs from both sides of the community into it. And if you read the statistics in Lost Lives, the IRA, the army of the republicans, killed 7 times more of their own people than the security forces did. Now someone has took a notion that this doesn’t warrant talking about. I was in the UDR and we got them dumped along the border. They took them and they interrogated them in Donegal and then brought them back and dumped them on the border so we would have to deal with them. Now that has been going on. People said all this was coming from the one side.
Shoot to kill: “The ‘shoot to kill’ policy is another one that gets right up my nose. I carried cross rifles on my arms for years. That meant that it would hit fairly near what I was aiming at. I carried a rifle and I carried ammunition but on the ‘shoot to kill’ policy, where are the piles of bodies in West Tyrone if we had such a policy? Where are the piles of bodies? It was something to throw out there to blacken the security forces, that there was a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. But if there was a ‘shoot to kill’ policy where are they? Where did the bodies go? And I asked that question … and no one has come back to me on it. Because they don’t want to think of that subject, that the IRA was murdering their own more than the security forces were. And I think I’ll leave it at that.”
Chair: “Thank you. There’s no particular response presumably to that. Go ahead…Could people actually – for the tapes as well – give their names? It would help.”
Q. 2.Gerry Carolan (Belfast): “My name is Gerry Carolan. I had to resign from the RUC 25 years ago after being injured in 4 or 5 bombs, left in a heap. Alan alluded to political generosity. Political generosity is merely an attempt to make victims forfeit their rights to access the truth. We are getting .. apologies by men who poached our lives at night, and the lives of our loved ones. Those same men are now head hunted by both the British and Irish governments. We have to bend the knee to them now. And it’s a horrible thing to say but if you were in West Belfast and you heard the Catholic priest saying ‘no IRA funeral from this church’ and you see them coming in with Joe Cahill’s remains, the tricolour, and the guard of honour, 5 priests waiting for the arrival of this man… what did the church do about this? They stood back and let it happen. … We suffered it all for years and years. We talk about terrorists but we only talk about them in relation to the twin towers, 9/11, that was terrorism, over here it was paramilitaries who carried these things out. We are now left confused and misunderstood and forgotten about… Surrender came from sitting around a table. We call this political peace …. but at what cost to the victims? And don’t forget the victims are witnesses to the truth. What are the implications for the victims? We can have all these historical enquiries teams, inquiries, the lot. It will not bring the bodies out of the church yards. It will not bring fathers back to innocent children. I see all the memorials, the murals, the lot. There are none to the RUC, there are none to the UDR, that are not demolished. And if you want to go into this policy of ‘shoot to kill’, the last civilian who was shot was shot by a PSNI officer, in a stolen car. Today we see a terrorist appointed to the Policing Board, Martina Anderson, a convicted bomber, to our Policing Board. And, to conclude, I identify with all that Hazlett has said here tonight, you may not want to hear that, but I identify with it, from my heart and from my conscience. Thank you.”
Q. 3. James McGeever (Kingscourt): “Because of the possibility of the troubles re-occurring would Kate agree that there can be no real healing through remembering until the republican movement is persuaded that it is no longer patriotically legitimate to use their traditional means of armed struggle, terrorism, subversive conspiracy in the cause of freeing Ireland from British government control? If that were to happen it would prepare for a process of mutual sympathetic understanding, mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Chair: “Do you want to make a quick response, Kate?”
Kate Turner: “As I said, I can only respond on behalf of Healing Through Remembering in terms of what they actually discussed and I think what we are here about today is about saying that we need to have a debate about what needs to be said in order to build proper peace. We are not here with any of the answers as to what that is. We are trying to raise the debate round that to ensure that we can engage in what it is that people need to hear and need to know about the past to that we can kind of learn from that to go forward. In saying that I would like to say that I understand what Leslie was saying, that there are issues around what is being said, and how things are being discussed, and this idea that we can just go forward without looking at the past and seeing what we can learn from it. But the debate needs to be about how can we look at the past, how can we see what was happening and who was involved in what in a way that builds a better future, rather than saying this is what we need to do? It needs to be quite a developed debate about that to see what it is that people need, what it is possible for people to deliver, and whether that is going to build a more stable society or whether it’s something that’s in danger of sending us back into violence.”
Pat Conway: “Just a couple of points. The process is driven by its being victim-centric, it’s for victims ultimately, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about a hidden agenda or some sort of government-sponsored process, because it’s not government-sponsored, its funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and we deliberately do not take money from government agencies or organisations precisely for that reason. Secondly, it’s not the intention, and it was never the intention, to forget. That’s not what this is about either, and I think two or three people said it was about forgetting. It’s about recording and remembering and making sure that it doesn’t happen again. That’s what it’s about.”
Q. 4. Anne Gallagher: “I just want to say that I think it’s a wonderful report that you have put together. When I look around and see every facet of the people of Ireland represented in those little boxes, I think you have done a great job. I also want to say that I had four brothers involved in the IRA who I also see as victims, and as part of a project called Seeds of Hope that has addressed people from the paramilitaries and the victims, EPIC and Alternative to Violence are two of the groups I have worked with, and Marty Snoddon, who I think is part of your organisation, once wrote a poem called ‘Who are the victims, dare I ask?’ And I really reflected on that. And as a nurse at the height of the troubles in Belfast, I saw what the bombs and the guns do. I am a total pacifist. I think that we are part of an extraordinary conflict. For healing to take place, every voice, every individual needs to be heard, for healing to take place.
“And Hazlett, I sensed your anger and frustration, and I appreciate deeply where you are coming from. And my mother used to say that it is easy to listen to the people who speak your language, it’s nice to sit in those kind of groups, but for me it was so good to listen to your pain, and that sounds like rhetoric, but until we are prepared to listen and address where you are coming from I don’t think we have any future. You have to be part of the healing process. So I am just so pleased that I am here.”
Q. 5. Paddy Martin. “… I come from Co. Louth near the border with Crossmaglen. It takes for you to have a member of your family murdered to know what it is like. Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Mary Harney, Michael McDowell, they haven’t a bull’s notion of what the impact that a murder has on the family, otherwise they wouldn’t be treating Margaret Urwin and the Justice for the Forgotten group the way they are. And they wouldn’t be talking about building a monument to the victims up at the border for 5 million pounds, and they didn’t offer 5million cents to the victims! I think the woman who summed it up more concisely than anyone was a French woman who visited Co Cork on the anniversary of her daughter’s death, about a month ago. She said, ‘the people who murdered my daughter Sophie didn’t murder my daughter, they murdered all the rest of the family as well’. Now if I could relate my story to you, a small section of it, and I would ask for this not to be reported as I have the gun at my head still…..” [section omitted as requested]
“… What I am saying is that you can’t put the clock back. Britain’s foreign policy and domestic policy is based on the maxim ‘we have no permanent friends or enemies’… Now, with the domestic upheaval there is in Britain at the moment, they have lost control of whole cities there, if Britain wanted peace in Ireland as we all do, and there’s only one way to get peace in Ireland, it’s to get Protestant and Catholic together, and this is the best thing that ever happened. But putting up a monument along the border to the victims, that disturbs me because it suggests to me that this is all the victims are going to get…..”
Q. 6. Mick McCarthy: “Thank you very much. The gentleman at the end of the table [Alan] said that anger leads to more conflict, and this gentleman here who suffered greatly said that this was the best thing that ever happened. I was a bartender in New York as a student. I had the folk memories of famine, rebellion, hurt. It turned into violence and created a lot of trouble. Once this was an island of saints and scholars. We are told, and Bishop you are a man of the cloth, you are aware of what Jesus suffered at Easter, but ‘blessed are the peace makers’. The peace makers are all here tonight. I think there’s global conflict, with environmental dislocation, the anger those people in Iraq and Islam are feeling at the moment is going to erupt all over the place. We have the potential to create a haven of hope … and make no mistake, only God can heal, in my humble opinion, because people have suffered horrifically. I went down to a church this evening, a Catholic devotion, it just happened to be people coming together for prayer and guidance and I don’t want to go into Catholic theology about Fatima or Medjugore or all these areas that are talking about quite traumatic times coming, but what is here is hope and people are making a fantastic effort, and I want to thank all the people … that organise endless number of prayer vigils, masses, people coming together, because if we can pull something together out of this, we could create something that would be a beacon of light in the world. When we go out of here, we all talk to each other, we might talk to God a bit more and see how the higher power can come into it. Thank you very much indeed.”
Dr Clarke: “Just before we draw things to a close, Hazlett wants to respond…”
Hazlett Lynch: “Thank you Richard. Just two things: First of all, it was said that I was invited to be part of this project. That’s correct, I was. Why did I refuse? I refused primarily because on the 2nd of June, 1977, the Provos murdered my youngest brother. I was expected to go and sit with and discuss things with Provos, with terrorists, in this particular Board. That I refused to do. Secondly, I did refer to a reconciliation industry. That reconciliation industry is not within the victims’ groups. It has been built up around civil servants, politicians, do-gooders, people who are not victims, people who have never been victims, and people who saw this as a tremendous career opportunity. I’ve known civil servants climb the ladder in Northern Ireland, wanting to become head of the Victims Unit. Why? It’s a sexy position, it gets you up, it’s good on your CV. So the industry is not within the victims’ sector, it’s those who have jumped on the backs of victims in order to progress their own careers. Thank you.”
Concluding words: Bishop Richard Clarke: “Just before we draw things to a close, first of all may I on behalf of all of us thank the different groups represented here, the Healing Through Remembering group obviously, West Tyrone Voice and Justice for the Forgotten. I want to make a couple of points, if I may, at this stage. One a small point about the five options suggested and then a couple of other things. But before I do I would like to thank all of those who have taken part, including those from the floor, and of course to thank the Meath Peace Group for facilitating this. And I do hope that those involved in the Healing Through Remembering have found material here that is of help to you.
“Just to add a couple of things in my concluding remarks. The first is: of the options, the one that probably caused me the greatest difficulty is the idea of the ‘commission for historical clarification’. [tape break…] I think one is in great danger of very superficial conclusions if you actually think you are going to get historical objectivity in a very short time. That’s just a comment.
Terrorism: “Moving to the second thing, and I very much agree with Irwin on this. I don’t think have to use politically correct language. Anyone who has studied modern warfare and modern politics knows that terrorism is actually a specific mode of political method..It is heartless, it is inhumane, but what it is doing is trying to do three things: first of all, at the most gut level, trying to wreak vengeance whether on the right target or not. Whether it’s a month old child doesn’t greatly matter, you have managed to wreak vengeance.
“But then two other very serious things which we have to be aware of, even in our response, and even though I am a southerner, I grew up in the Republic of Ireland, I have cousins who have been in both the UDR and the RUC so I know roughly what you are talking about in terms of that constant fear of murder. But we have to think of terrorism as doing two other things. The first is the cold bloodless – and yet it is bloody at the same time – intention to terrorise another group into surrendering their own legitimate aspirations. They will become so fearful that they will do anything in order to try and stop the hurt and stop the death, and so they might even surrender what are their own aspirations. And it doesn’t matter whatever side it comes from, that is the cold intention and so often it works. And the other thing of course, and this is what we see again and again, is to provoke over-reaction so that with the over-reaction you gain support for your cause because people have been murdered by the other side whom you deliberately tried to provoke into over-reaction. Now what we have seen in Northern Ireland is being replicated today in Iraq, precisely the same cold, inhumane logic of terrorism can be applied anywhere. And I don’t think we do anyone any favours by refusing to use the word. It is a political method that was used long before it was used in Northern Ireland and it is a political method that is still being used in other parts of the globe today. It is a political method without heart, it is cold and it is effective. And that is why it is used and it will go on being used, not just in Northern Ireland perhaps at the moment, but in other parts of the globe. So I would agree, from that point of view, with Irwin, and I would agree with you too Hazlett: let’s not use nice language because we don’t like to know what reality means.
Moving beyond the horrors of where we have been: “The last thing that I want to say is that although in many ways I hate the idea and the term ‘moving on’, so often it is just a shallow superficiality, but for everybody – and that includes those, and I was, like others, very moved by West Tyrone Voice, the fact the hurt is still there that you were able to express and legitimately express – somehow we all have to move beyond the place we are. Whether it is through retribution which is what some people want, whether it is through, if you like, just drawing a line under things which other people temperamentally are able to do sometimes remarkably, whether it is by getting truth, exposing truth, and then just by truth itself being exposed, being able to move beyond it, but for everyone, whatever we are looking for – retribution, the peace that we find ourselves, or just simply peace that comes from finding the truth – we really have no choice but to move beyond the horrors of where we have been, the horrors of pain, the horrors of witnessing, suffering the death of those around us. But somehow in our own way, and this I think is really what Healing Through Remembering is trying to do is to find a method for everyone to get beyond where they are, if I have understood what you are doing.
“My thanks for what to me was a very valuable, very stimulating evening. I thank all of you who contributed, and again, as always, the Meath Peace Group for facilitating something so useful. Thank you all very much indeed.”
1. Healing through Remembering group:
Alan Wardle is Project Development Manager for Shankill Stress and Trauma Group in Belfast. He has participated in international training delivery programmes, in both Kosovo and Croatia, delivering conflict management theories as well as mediation models.
Irwin Turbitt retired as an Assistant Chief Constable from the PSNI in 2006 having served almost 30 years in the RUC and the PSNI. HE has been involved in voluntary peace-building work for a number of years, and plans now to be more so along with academic and consulting work in the areas of leadership, innovation and governance at Warwick Business School.
Pat Conway is currently Director of Services with the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO). He is primarily responsible for adult services for ex-offenders, prisoners and ex-prisoners as well as policy development and communications. Pat has worked in London and Belfast as a social worker and has been involved in the Healing Through Remembering Project for the past six years.
Kate Turner has been the Project co-ordinator with Healing Through Remembering since December 2000. She has twenty years experience in the voluntary sector.
2. Justice for the Forgotten: Margaret Urwin is manager of the Justice for the Forgotten Family Support Centre in Gardiner Street, Dublin and also acts as researcher and secretary to the campaign. She has been involved in assisting the bereaved families of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings since 1993 and saw the inception of Justice for the Forgotten in January 1996. She has been full-time with the organisation since May 1999. As Manager of the Family Support Centre she assists all victims of the conflict resident in this jurisdiction who seek help in such matters as counselling, holistic therapies, applications to the Remembrance Commission for personal awards and memorials, assistance with planning and arranging commemorations. Don Mullan spoke on behalf of the Justice for the Forgotten Group at a previous Meath Peace Group talk “Victims are part of the Peace Process’ held on 24th March 1999 (talk no. 32: report available on MPG website; some copies in hall tonight). Website: dublinmonaghanbombings.org
3. West Tyrone Voice: Dr Hazlett Lynch is Director of the West Tyrone Voice victims group which was established in 1999 to provide support for the innocent victims of terrorist violence during the protracted terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland. WTV works with members and families of the security forces, the bereaved and the injured, both physically and emotionally. Hazlett and three other members of the group addressed the Meath Peace Group talk ‘Who can we trust?’ on 14th November 2005 (talk no. 58: report available on MPG website; some copies in hall tonight). Hazlett recently gained his M.Phil. in Reconciliation Studies from Trinity College, Dublin.
Guest chair: Dr. Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare, has an academic background in modern Irish history and the relationship between literature and theology. Dr Clarke has a particular interest in both the history and the poetry of the Great War. In a book published a few years ago, And Is it true?, he related some of the poetry of the First World War to questions of God’s existence, and present-day religious faith. Dr. Clarke has addressed previous Meath Peace Group talks: nos. 43 (May 20, 2002):“Diversity of Ethos – Challenges for a “Mono-Ethnic, Mono-Cultural” Society?” and 62 (June 12, 2006): “Irish involvement in the Great War” (reports available on website)
Meath Peace Group Report 66 (2007)
Taped by Judith Hamill (Tara), Jim Kealy (Navan) and Dave Kenneally (Columbans, Dalgan Park)
Transcribed by Catherine Clancy and Julitta Clancy
Edited by Julitta Clancy
Acknowledgments: Meath Peace Group would like to thank the speakers and guest chair for coming to address this public talk and for giving so generously of their time. A special thanks to all who came to the talk (some from long distances), those who took part in the discussion afterwards and all those who have given their continued support, encouragement and participation through the years. Thanks also to those who assisted in the planning, organisation, publicity and recording of the talk, to the Columban Fathers at Dalgan Park for facilitating the majority of our public talks and to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund for financial assistance towards the running costs of the talks and school programmes, and to the staff and students of secondary schools who have taken part in our peace studies programmes
©Meath Peace Group