Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McGuigan addresses Ard Fheis on truth recovery

28 February, 2004


Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan today addressed the party's Ard Fheis and said 'Sinn Fein isn't being prescriptive in this regard. We don't have a blueprint, nor are we attached to any particular model of truth recovery. Any process should be victim-centred and, to ensure impartiality, has to be independent and international.' Mr. McGuigan said:

A chairde agus comradaithe, our motion today calls for a focussed debate and political engagement with all relevant parties on the timing and purpose of truth recovery processes. In October last year we launched our paper on truth - 'Truth - A Sinn Fein Discussion Document' to promote a debate about the issues this entails.

I commend this document to you comrades, it is available from the usual outlets and can be downloaded from the party website. Bring it into your cumainn and discuss it. This is an important issue and we need to acquaint ourselves with all the arguments and sensitivities around it.

The Sinn Fein position on truth is clear. We support relatives in their search for truth. We have been consistent over the years in supporting campaigns for full and open disclosure in the quest for truth and justice. This includes the campaigns for inquiries into the killings;

  • On Bloody Sunday
  • Of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill
  • Those arising from British and loyalist collusion on both sides of the border.

Some families have spent years, in some instances decades, in dogged pursuit of the truth, coming up against one closed door after another. In some cases there have been results. Inquiries have been granted in some instances, most notably in relation to Bloody Sunday. This Ard Fheis would like to pay tribute to those relatives and tireless campaigners who never gave up on this.

In most instances however, those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British state, whether directly or less directly by means of collusion, have been pointedly denied the truth. In fact every effort has made to block and cover up what happened to those hundreds of people killed by British state and semi-state forces.

This included different sections of the British government blocking avenues of inquiry being pursued by the Saville inquiry, the destruction of evidence in relation to Bloody Sunday; the character assassination of John Stalker when he was unearthing the truth, the curtailment of the terms of reference for the Sampson/Stevens inquiry and the refusal of the PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde to provide information to inquests in Belfast and Derry in respect of the killings of Pearse Jordan and Roseanne Mallon.

Evidence has been destroyed, lies have been told, files have been 'lost', inquests have been denied, injunctions have been granted and Public Interest Immunity Certificates issued each and every time it looks as if someone is getting near to the truth about Britain's dirty war in Ireland.

It is against this backdrop that the recent highly publicised interventions of Chief Constable Hugh Orde, himself at the centre of blocking inquests, and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Policing Board must be seen. 'No more inquiries, perhaps a Truth Commission' they say 'Inquiries cost too much, they're a drain on police resources and are affecting morale.'

Part of this is to protect the policing board and the PSNI from having to deal with the human rights abusers, especially in Special Branch who have moved en bloc into the PSNI.

Well, if they really support a truth process why don't they just give us the truth? There'll be no need for any inquiries if they open up the files and encourage their employees to tell us how and why they killed hundreds of people over the years. Full and open disclosure.

It is wrong for anyone to dip his or her toe into this issue, to come out with some broad sweeping generalisation and then walk away from it. If anyone is genuinely interested in discussing ways to bring healing and closure to all those who have suffered as a result of the recent conflict, our door is open.

Sinn Fein isn't being prescriptive in this regard. We don't have a blueprint, nor are we attached to any particular model of truth recovery. Any process should be victim-centred and, to ensure impartiality, has to be independent and international. It should have national reconciliation at its core and should be informed by humility, generosity and a desire to learn the lessons of the past."ENDS

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