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Sinn Féin call for Independent International Truth Commission

25 September, 2008

Speaking at today's Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement Joint Oireachtas Committee during which the Victims Commission made a presentation the Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Peace Process Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to welcome the very important work that the Victims Commission has taken on for the many thousands of people who have been deeply affected by the conflict in our country. That work is a key part of the process of healing, reconciliation and building a renewed society.

"When it was announced earlier this year that a four-person Victims Commission was to be established Sinn Féin said that it represented an important step forward in ensuring that ALL victims can be represented equally.

"The different needs, backgrounds and experiences of the many people who have lost loved ones and suffered during the conflict need to be dealt with on an equitable basis. It is positive that we now have in place a Commission that puts the needs of victims centre stage and that, through a collective approach, can ensure parity of esteem for all victims.

"There should never be a hierarchy of victims. That is crucially important. People on all sides suffered, as did many who were totally uninvolved in the political or military conflict.

"In this week's An Phoblacht Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has announced that, following a process of consultation and discussion, particularly with victims and victims' groups, Sinn Féin has concluded that the best way forward on the issue of truth recovery is through the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission.

"Republicans have acknowledged the hurt they have caused during the conflict. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed his personal and sincere regret and apologised for that hurt. The IRA has also apologised to all those non-combatants it killed or injured and their families.

"In the past the British state has refused to acknowledge its role in the conflict, the killings by its Army and police and especially with regard to collusion. This refusal continues, as we have seen with the failure to co-operate with the Barron investigation established by this Oireachtas. That approach must change." ENDS

Sinn Féin has put forward principles which we believe should underpin any effective truth recovery process:

· All processes should be victim-centred and deal with victims on an all-Ireland basis;
· Full co-operation by all relevant parties is essential to the success of any commission;
· There should be no hierarchy of victims;
· All processes should be politically neutral;
· Any future panel should be international and independent;
· One of the purposes of any future panel/commission should be to examine the 'causes, nature and extent' of the conflict;
· An objective of any process should be healing - both for direct victims and for society in general;
· A common aim should be to enable society to build the peace;
· Reconciliation should be the core aim of any truth process; and Respect and generosity should inform the parties seeking to reach agreement.

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