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A Victims Commissioner must acknowledge all victims equally

24 February, 2005

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Truth, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan commenting on indications that British Secretary of State Paul Murphy may appoint a commissioner who can represent the victims of the conflict has said that any such commissioner or process of truth recovery must acknowledge all victims equally.

Mr McGuigan said:

"I would broadly welcome the appointment of a victims commissioner as a move to address the concerns of many victims. However, this does not address the central need to deal with the issues of truth and justice. There is also a growing desire to deal with healing and the past.

"We have seen many false dawns. The Bloomfield report only served to reinforce a hierarchy of victims. The appointment of a British Army minister in the shape of Adam Ingram, who had specific responsibility for the issue, further alienated the many victims of state murder and collusion.

"The NIO claim that they are currently consulting on how the needs of victims can be addressed through a truth process. Yet, there is no evidence to support these claims. None of the victims' groups or individuals active in this field has been consulted.

"We need an honest and open debate about how we deal with the past. Many do not trust that the British government are entering into this with good intentions. They continue to dodge the issue of collusion and have singularly failed to accept or acknowledge their role in the conflict. The British government needs to be engaging with others to find a way forward on how we deal with the past. It is apparent to everyone else that only an independent body would have any chance of progressing this issue." ENDS

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