Peter Robinson: Time for closure for all Northern Ireland Troubles victims
All those who carried out atrocities in Northern Ireland should put their wrongdoing on public record, the First Minister has said.
Making his first response to the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, Peter Robinson last night said he accepted the report findings and added it was time for closure for the victims.
The Democratic Unionist leader expressed sympathy for those left bereaved after the 1972 shooting in Londonderry but said everybody needed to come clean.
“We can't expect the truth to be told and then not be prepared to tell it yourself,” he said.
“There's a requirement from all of the paramilitary organisations to 'fess up and indicate the roles that they played.”
Mr Robinson accepted Lord Saville's findings that the 14 killed and 13 wounded on Bloody Sunday were innocent, but said £200m could not be spent investigating every incident.
“I strongly believe the best way of dealing with issues of the past is to have a public record where all those who are the victims can put on record their stories,” he added.
The First Minister also said the conclusion by Saville that his Deputy, Martin McGuinness, was probably carrying a gun on Bloody Sunday would “not come as a surprise to most unionists”.
“We have to come to a stage, if we want to move forward as a society, we have to recognise certain realities.
“We are doing that, we don't want to visit upon future generations the dark days of the past,” he said.
Earlier yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron admitted he finds it “painful” to work with Martin McGuinness.
But he insisted compromises such as the rehabilitation of the former IRA chief were a “price worth paying” for peace in Northern Ireland.
His comments came as pressure intensified on the Deputy First Minister over his handling of Lord Saville’s report. The Prime Minister referred to senior Tory figures Ian Gow and Airey Neave, who were both killed in republican attacks, as he gave an insight into his relationship with Mr McGuinness
“I find it personally quite painful when I think of Ian Gow or Airey Neave — Airey was the first MP who ever represented me in Parliament,” he said.
“I do find it painful that I now sometimes sit around a table with Martin McGuinness and I think about what that man did.
“But everyone has to come to terms with that because that is the price we are paying for peace, and it is a price that is worth paying, because peace is so much better than the alternative.”
Mr Cameron insisted the Bloody Sunday Inquiry had been necessary despite its huge costs — and said prosecutions were still possible in relation to other incidents during the Troubles.
“We have to ask ourselves with Bloody Sunday, when 13 people were killed on that one day, is it right to have an inquiry and get to the bottom of what happened on that very black day in British history?
“I think it is right. That doesn't in any way detract from other people who suffered,” he said.
Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty said the Prime Minister lacked understanding of the negative role of British interference in Ireland.
“Sinn Fein's position within this political process is based upon the electoral mandate we receive.
“The electorate has decided that David Cameron works with Sinn Fein, no-one else.
“David Cameron would do well to remember that.
“His own party, of course, couldn't even muster a single seat here in the recent election,” he said.
“Neither Martin McGuinness nor any other Sinn Fein leader have been ‘rehabilitated', as Mr Cameron stated.
“We are unashamed in our republican politics and in our belief that Britain should have no role in Irish affairs.”