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Relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday hold a statue presented to them by leaders of Northern Ireland's protestant churches.
Relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday hold a statue presented to them by leaders of Northern Ireland's protestant churches.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Troubles victims may have stories recorded

A new independent body may record the accounts of victims from Northern Ireland’s sectarian violence.
Nov 17th 2010, 2:23 PM 174 0

A NEW INDEPENDENT BODY may be set up in Northern Ireland to record the first-hand stories of the victims of The Troubles as a way of helping to fully chronicle the region’s troubled history.

RTÉ reports that the UK’s Northern secretary Owen Paterson, speaking in London, indicated that such a body could be one of a number of different options being considered by the government as a way of dealing with ‘the legacy of decades of violence’.

While the prospect of a so-called ‘Truth Commission’, following the South African post-Apartheid example, was ruled out, a new platform could be created to record the stories of the Troubles which would then be housed in museums or made available to the public online.

The new body could also allow access to new official government documents dealing with the UK government’s response to the Troubles.

“A further idea is some kind of mechanism for information sharing and recovery,” he said.

Historians, not Lawyers

In a speech which focussed on ‘dealing with the past’, Paterson said that “historians, rather than lawyers” were best placed to deal with the legacy of Northern Irish violence, and indicated that some of the methods used by Spanish historians to evaluate the history of the Franco era could he adapted for use in Ulster.

“Anything similar in Northern Ireland,” he said, “would clearly need involvement from all those involved in the events of the past 40 years. It could not be a one-sided exercise, and its value would be highly dependent on the extent to which individuals would be prepared to tell their story.”

The government would have to play its own part in releasing documents, the Belfast Telegraph reports he added, but that the overall management of the process would be independent.

Paterson also said he was becoming “increasingly attracted” to the concept of introducing a “normalisation bill” for the North in Westminster, dealing with issues such as managing political donations and ending the dual mandate for members of the Stormont assembly if members did not so themselves.

He also added that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was not “neutral on the Union” and was still committed to maintaining Northern Ireland’s position as a constituent part of the United Kingdom.

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Gavan Reilly

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