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Powerful sections of British state now opposed to dealing with legacy - Kearney

1 April, 2016

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has said that powerful sections of the British state have decided to oppose any resolution to the impasse on dealing with the past.  

Speaking at a remembrance evening entitled 'Legacy and Reconciliation' in Newry to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the RUC execution of IRA Volunteer Colum Marks, organised by the Marks family and Newry Cásca 1916 committee, he said reconciliation must now become central to the political process.

"Attempts by some to ridicule and diminish the legitimacy of the 1916 Rising are as much about recent history, as past history.  They seek to vilify the IRA and misrepresent its Volunteers.

"The reality is that tens of thousands of citizens joined the IRA during its armed campaign.  They became political soldiers because of political circumstances.  Colum Marks made his decision to become such a political soldier because of the enduring injustices in this society.

"Today the war is over and nation building is our collective priority.  But many challenges remain, and the biggest of these is the legacy of the past.

"The most serious impediment now to dealing with the past is the British government's veto on maximum information disclosure.  I believe that its refusal to do so, or to even seriously engage with Sinn Féin on the options we have submitted for resolving this latest impasse, confirms that powerful sections of the British state have decided there should be no progress on dealing with legacy issues.

"That is unacceptable to Sinn Fein.  It is a massive injustice to the families and representatives of all victims.

"Sinn Féin is absolutely committed to ensuring the legacy of pain and suffering is addressed, and that a process of reconciliation and healing is developed.

"Reconciliation must become this society's future.  The battleground of recrimination should be made a thing of the past.  Our focus must be upon dismantling fear and building trust.

"A failure to do otherwise will perpetuate old resentments and continue to imprison our society in the past.

"Reconciliation is essential to unlocking the positive opportunities of an agreed, united Ireland, and changing the nature of politics here.  It should be central to the collective responsibility of building a new and shared society.

"An inclusive national discussion is required on the development of a reconciliation and healing process.  Reconciliation must now become central to the political process, the work of government and public policy."

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