Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Can Northern Ireland ever agree on how to address the Troubles?

Political parties differ on the best way to deal with the scars of decades of violence. Adrian Rutherford looks at the contrasting viewpoints

Claire Radford, whose brother Alan was killed in the Omagh bomb, examines a new stained-glass window in the town's library with her daughter Mia.
Claire Radford, whose brother Alan was killed in the Omagh bomb, examines a new stained-glass window in the town's library with her daughter Mia.
Bloody Friday 1972
The IRA set off 26 explosions in Belfast, which killed 11 people and injured 130. 7 people were killed in Oxford Street bus station and 4 at a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road. 1972
EXPLOSIONS: BELFAST: BLOODY FRIDAY. 21ST JULY 1972. The IRA set off 26 explosions in Belfast, which killed 11 people and injured 130. 7 people were killed in Oxford Street bus station and 4 at a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road.
Respects are paid to the victims of Bloody Friday, Oxford Street, Belfast
The IRA set off 26 explosions in Belfast, which killed 11 people and injured 130. 7 people were killed in Oxford Street bus station and 4 at a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road.
.The IRA set off 26 explosions in Belfast, which killed 11 people and injured 130. 7 people were killed in Oxford Street bus station and 4 at a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road. 1972
Belfast, Bloody Friday, 21 July, 1972, the IRA set off 26 explosions in Belfast, which killed 11 people and injured 130. 7 people were killed in Oxford Street bus station and 4 at a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road.
Bloody Friday 1972
Bloody Friday victim. 1972
Bloody Friday. 1972
Bobby Sands election campaign. At the Coalisland headquarters are, Noreen Campbell and Seamus McGuckin. 4/4/1981.
Supporters of Fermanagh South Tyrone MP/Hunger Striker Bobby Sands.
Tomboy Loudon, Gerry Roche, Denis Donaldson and Bobby Sands pictured in the Long Kesh prison, Northern Ireland.
IRA prisoners' dirty protest while on hunger strike in the Maze Prison, November 1980.
Hunger striker Bobby Sands funeral procession making its way down Stewartstown Road on Route to Milltown cemetery
Bobby Sands funeral
Masked gunmen fire a volley of shots beside hunger striker Bobby Sands coffin, at Milltown Cemetery.
Hunger striker Bobby Sands' coffin, flanked by an IRA colour party, leaving his mother's home in Twinbrook.
Deceased hunger striker Bobby Sands (seated fourth from left). The Star of the Sea football team.
Tom McFeely - former hunger striker
Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, who spent 53 days on IRA hunger strike
Francis Hughes, IRA killer and hunger striker being captures after Maze break
Former hunger striker, Lawrence McKeown.
Francis Hughes, IRA killer and hunger striker
IRA hunger striker, Brendan McLaughlin, 29, from Greysteel, Londonderry, was moved to a hospital outside the Maze, suffering from internal bleeding. May 1981
IRA hunger striker, Paddy Quinn. Doctors were reported to be trying to save his life, after 47 days without food, on instructions from his family. June 1981
Maze hunger striker, Raymond McCartney from Londonderry. October 1980
Bobby Sands pictured on the first day of his hunger strike. Sands had just come off the blanket protest before going straight on to hunger strike.
The body of catholic man lies in an entry off the Shankill Road in West Belfast after being murdered by members of the Shankill butchers. 25/10/82. Pacemaker Press
Con Neeson who was killed by the Shankill butchers in the late 70's. Pacemaker Press
William Moore aka Shankill Butcher gang member. Pacemaker Press
Shankill Butcher Edward McIlwaine. Pacemaker Press
Robert "Basher" Bates: Shankill butcher
Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy
A man with slashed wrists after an attack by the Shankill Butchers. Pacemaker Press
Some of the knives used by the Shankill Butchers in their attacks. Pacemaker Press
Remains of the van in which 7 workmen were killed in an IRA landmine explosion in Teebane, Co.Tyrone. Pacemaker Press
Remains of the van in which 7 workmen were killed in an IRA landmine explosion in Teebane, Co.Tyrone. 18/01/92. Pacemaker Press
William Bleakes, one of the 7 workmen killed in the IRA 600lb bomb blast on the Omagh to Cookstown road at the Teebane crossing. Pacemaker Press
Cecil James Caldwell, one of the 7 workmen killed in the IRA 600lb bomb blast on the Omagh to Cookstown road at the Teebane crossing. Pacemaker Press
David Harkness, one of the 7 workmen killed in the IRA 600lb bomb blast on the Omagh to Cookstown road at the Teebane crossing. Pacemaker Press
Nigel McKee, one of the 7 workmen killed in the IRA 600lb bomb blast on the Omagh to Cookstown road at the Teebane crossing. Pacemaker Press
Robert Irons, one of the 7 workmen killed in the IRA 600lb bomb blast on the Omagh to Cookstown road at the Teebane crossing. Pacemaker Press
Catholic school children and their parents make their way to Holy Cross school under a heavy police and British Army presence in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
School children and parents with RUC officers who had to escort them to the Holy Cross Primary School Ardoyne today. Photo by: Niall Marshall
Paulette Donnelly with her parents arriving at Holy Cross Girls primary School after walking through "Corridor of Hate" on Friday (7/9/01).
Holy Cross School, November 2001. Children laugh and sing as they make there way up the Ardoyne Road this morning after loyalist protests were suspended and things start to get back to normal for the first time since school term started in September of this year
Ardoyne residents try to overturn an army landrover in Ardoyne avenue after trouble flared up again outside the nearby Holycross school. Picture: Pacemaker
Alice Lee Bunting in tears as she makes her way to Holy Cross Primary School
Fr Aidan Troy at the front gates of Holy Cross Girls School
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Holy Cross Primary School.
Smoke spreads as a pipe bomb explodes after it was thrown at police and army lines by protesting loyalists this morning in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, after Holy Cross Primary school children were marched through lines of Police and army on the second day back to school.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest September 2001. The postman was the only sign of normality this morning on the Ardoyne Rd as despite all that has been happening - the mail got through.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest September 2001. Riot police and army march Holy Cross school children and their parents past burnt out cars and protesting loyalists on their second day back to school in Ardoyne, North Belfast this morning.
An injured police officer is helped by two of his colleagues after a pipe bomb was thrown at them from protesting loyalists this morning in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, after Holy Cross Primary school children were marched through lines of Police and army on the second day back to school.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Terrified school children after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists. The blast bomb injured one policeman and a police dog, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
An injured police officer is helped into an ambulance by his colleagues after a blast bomb was thrown at them from protesting loyalists in the Glenbryn area of Ardoyne, North Belfast, this morning, this is the third morning trouble has flared as catholic parents and their children through a protestant area to the Holy Cross Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast.
Police officers carry an injured dog away to get medical help after a blast bomb was launched by protesting loyalists
Catholic Holy Cross Primary School children in tears as their parents march them through armed police and army lines who where holding back protesting protestant residents in Ardoyne, North Belfast, on their first day back to school this morning.
Catholic Holy Cross Primary School children in tears as their parents march them through armed police and army lines who where holding back protesting protestant residents in Ardoyne, North Belfast, on their first day back to school this morning.
Protestant school children who were separated from their parents, scream for their mothers who were held behind armed police and army lines, before the catholic Holy Cross school children were brought to school in Ardoyne this morning.
Catholic schoolchildren are shepherded past protestant protesters at Ardoyne Road.
Holy Cross Primary School Protest And Riots Sept 2001
Holy Cross Primary School Protest In Belfast
Catholic children walking to the Holy Cross Primary School.
A pupil from the Holy Cross school in North Belfast interferance where trouble has been erupting for several weeks.
Ardoyne Road parents and their children on their way to Holy Cross Girls Primary School in what is now the tenth week of the dispute and loyalist protest.
Army bomb disposal experts blow up a second device in a grate beside a protestants car parked near the entrance to the Holy Cross Catholic Shool after having dealt with a suspect bomb across the road in the Protestant Wheatfield Primary And Nursery school.
Security forces keep a watchful eye as a young girl and her father walk up the Ardoyne Road in North Belfast to Holy Cross school. Police stepped up their security outside North Belfast schools after recent threats and trouble as parents walked their children to school.
Father Aiden Troy - Chairman of Board of Governors of Holy Cross School - discusses the sitation with a senior police officer on Ardoyne road
Armed soldiers behind a wall on Londonderry's Bogside.
John Hume is detained by soldiers during a civil rights protest in Londonderry in August 1971.
John Hume is detained by soldiers during a civil rights protest in Londonderry in August 1971.
Main Street Claudy in August 1972 when three Provisional IRA car bombs exploded without warning, killing 9 local people and injuring many others.
John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono raise their fists as they join a protest in front of British Overseas Airways Corp. offices in New York on Fifth Avenue, Feb 5th 1972. The demonstrators called for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland.
IRA Bomb attack on the La Mon House Hotel
La Mon House Hotel Provisional IRA Bomb Victim, Sandra Morris
La Mon House Hotel Provisional IRA Bomb Victim, Carol Mills
La Mon House Hotel Provisional IRA Bomb Victim, Christine Lockhart
SDLP press conference with John Hume, Gerry Fitt, Austin Currie and Paddy Devlin. 11/09/75
Behind the barbed wire of long kesh internment camp are SDLP MPs(from left)Paddy Devlin, Austin Currie, John Hume and Ivan Cooper. They were visiting internees. 21/09/71
Billy Wright ,loyalist fanatic who was shot dead in the Maze Prison, was leader of the renegade Loyalist Volunteer Force
Ulster Vanguard Movement: Ulster Vanguard Association Rally at Stormont. 29/03/72
William Craig:Leader of the Vanguard Unionist Progressive party.
Ulster Vanguard Movement: A section of the crowd at the Vanguard Association Rally at Ormeau Park. 18/03/72
Ulster Defence Association/U.D.A: 1972. Delegates at the talks between Vanguard, Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Association of Workers.
Ulster Vanguard Movement:September 1972.
August 2005
Lord Fitt, (then Gerry), standing forelornly in the burnt out remains of his home on the Antrim Road in Belfast. He had just flown in from London to see the damage caused by a rampaging republican mob from the nearby New Lodge Road area. He was elevated to the House of Lords shortly after this incident. He likened the mob to the 'Waffen SS' youth movement in Nazi Germany.
Photograph: Justin Kernoghan
Fire crews tackling a blaze in Queen Street, Belfast in 1977. The fire was caused by a bomb. Photograph by Bobby Ingram.
Belfast's Milltown Cemetery comes under attack by UDA man Michael Stone, during the funerals of three Provisional IRA members. Picture by Bobby Ingram
The Last Gunman by Brendan Murphy, July 1997. An IRA man on the Lower Ormeau area fires at a police roadblock on the bridge across the River Lagan. Within weeks, the IRA declared its second ceasefire.
Fred Hoare captures a confrontation between police and republicans in Belfast
A man lies injured on the ground after being caught in a bomb explosion in Donegall Street, Belfast. Picture by Fred Hoare
A bomb explodes in a stationary shop in Royal Avenue, Belfast Picture by Fred Hoare
April 1984 Man is searched by the British Army on Belfast's Falls Road as people go about their businness, hardly seeming to register that this was happening. Picture by Brendan Murphy
Newly elected DUP MP Peter Robinson and his wife Iris. 4/5/1979
Peter Robinson about to invade the small village of Clontibret, Co Monaghan, in 1986.
Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes in Long Kesh
Martin McGuinness in Derry's Bogside at a press conference. 1971
Members of the UDA provide an escort at the funeral of 30 year old John Lunnen Brown, a UDA volunteer, of Blackmountain Park, Springmartin. 01/07/72.
Mrs Mary Meehan who was shot by the army in Cape Street, 23rd october 1971. Family photo.
Scots Guardsman, Paul Nicholls, from Caithness, killed by an IRA sniper on the Falls Road, Belfast. 1971
Scene of the IRA bomb and shooting attack at Loughall Police Station which resulted in 8 IRA and 1 Civilian being killed.
Supporters of the UDA preparing food to be used by UDA members in the Shankill Road area. 02/07/72
MOURNERS CARRYING HURLING STICKS HEAD THE FUNERAL PROCESSION OF JOHN JOSEPH KAVANAGH, FOUND SHOT DEAD IN THE RIVER BLACKSTAFF. 27.01.1971.
A UDA checkpoint barrier at Moat Road. 08/06/72
UDA on the streets of Londonderry. 30/09/72
Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, who spent 53 days on IRA hunger strike.
Some of the 24 Ulsterbuses which were burnt out after an IRA attack on the depot in Armagh. 28/4/1982.
Mourners panicking at Milltown Cemetery, Belfast, after a gun and bomb attack by Michael Stone which left three people dead and four seriously injured during the funerals of three IRA membes shot dead in Gibraltar. 1988
Joan Travers and her daughter Ann at the funeral of her other daughter, Mary, shot dead by IRA gunmen in Windsor Avenue, Belfast. while walking home from Mass with her father Judge Tom Travers. 1984
Ian Paisley at the scene of the IRA motar attack on Newry Police Station. which killed 9 officers. 28/2/1985.
President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at the funeral of Patrick Kelly . 1987
Martin Meehan (centre) with Gerry Adams at a funeral in Belfast in 1971 of a Belfast IRA commander.
UDA men line up for inspection at Bloomfield before the march. 30/09/72
Reverend Martin Smyth and Billy Hull with UDA leaders. 1972
The Shankill Road member. 1972
A man is frisked by masked members of the UDA at a barricade on the Lisburn Road end of Sandy Row. 1972
Riots in Belfast, 1969
A man talks to soldiers over the barricade, in Divis Street, Belfast. 16/8/1969
Rioting in Belfast, 1962
A family flee their home during rioting in Belfast 1969
Belfast 1969
British soldiers patrol Belfast in 1969
Belfast City Hall bombed. 23/5/1994.
UDA barricades off Ainsworth Avenue. 04/07/72
In disguise. Ulster Workers Council Strike: 1974
Farmers from the North Down area form a barricade of tractors across the Belfast-Saintfield Road at Carryduff. Ulster Workers Council Strike 23/05/74
Labour exchange in Great Patrick Street. The queue for unemployment benefit is the biggest seen for a long time. Ulster Workers Council Strike 22/05/74
Faces in the crowd during the Ulster Workers Council Strike. 05/06/74
Newtownards Road Hi-jack. Ulster Workers Council Strike 16/05/04
Farmers celebrations in Hillsborough. Ulster Workers Council Strike 01/06/74
Another blockade during the U.W.C strike. May 1974
Soldiers posted near a petrol station. Ulster Workers Council Strike 1974.
A convoy travels along the road during the U.W.C strike. 1974
A man holds a chick by the foot, during the U.W.C strike. 24/05/74
Soldiers checking cars entering the harbour estate in Belfast after they had taken over the petrol and oil facilities. Ulster Workers Council Strike 27/05/74
Army generators move along the Sydenham By-Pass. Ulster Workers Council Strike 23/05/74
Young Farmers from the North Down area in a convoy of vehicles in support of the U.W.C strike. 1974
A soldier on guard at the Ulster Garages premises during the U.W.C strike. 1974
A U.W.C truck containing a coffin proclaiming the death of the Sunningdale agreement. Ulster Workers Council Strike 1974
Platform party at U.W.C Rally at Stormont. Ulster Workers Council Strike 05/06/74
Soldiers stand guard as a Ministry of Commerce worker serves petrol at one of the Belfast City centre filling stations. Only essential users were being supplied. Ulster Workers Council Strike May 1974
People gathered outside a convenience store. Ulster Workers Council Strike 1974
One of the first trade unionists to get through the picket line at Queen's Quay was the AFU district secretary Jimmy Graham (centre). Ulster Workers Council Strike 1974
Cars queued up waiting to enter the harbour estate at Queens, Belfast, when the Army set up check points at the entrances after taking over the petrol and oil facilities. Ulster Workers Council Strike 27/05/74
Ulster Workers Council Strike 23/05/74
News on the Shankill-the UWC notice board on the Shankill Road recieved a lot of attention from passersby. Ulster Workers Council Strike
Farmers protest march to Stormont. Ulster Workers Council Strike, May 1974
Ulster Workers Council Strike. May 1974
Ulster Workers Council Strike. 28/5/1974
Ulster Workers Council Strike. May 1974
Crowds at Stormont during the Ulster Worker's Council strike. 28/05/74
Crowds during the Ulster Worker's Council strike. 28/05/74
Orangemen On The Garvaghy Road, July 2000
RUC: Police officers at the 12th parades at Portadown 1985.
Portadown March at Drumcree bridge July 2002 Portadown District Orangemen parade down to the barrier at Drumcree before trouble flared
Drumcree, Northern Ireland. A makeshift road block on main road into Portadown town centre
An injured woman is led away, Drumcree July 1997
A petrol bomber on the Garvaghy Road
Orangemen go no further as they reach the barrier at Drumcreee preventing them from marching on the Garvaghy Rd.
Tempers flare as Orangemen are blocked from walking the Garvaghy Rd, Drumcree, July 2000
Orangemen at Drumcree
Drumcree July 2000
Drumcree - July 6th 2002. Soldiers erect a security fence at Drumcree Church in Portadown.
PSNI riot team firing plastic bullets
Drumcree Orange Parade At Portadown July 1998. Portadown Grand Master Harold Gracey gives a speech to the crowds outside Drumcree Church of Ireland.
Orange Order: Drumcree, Portadown
GARVAGHY RD JULY 1996. POLICE OFFICERS REMOVE PROTESTING NATIONALISTS FROM GARVAGHY RD.
GARVAGHY RD JULY 1996. POLICE OFFICERS REMOVE PROTESTING NATIONALISTS FROM GARVAGHY RD.
DAVID TRIMBLE MAKES HIS WAY TO GREET THE PORTADOWN ORANGEMEN AFTER THEY MARCHED DOWN GARVAGHY RD 1996.
4/7/03 Garvaghy road residents spokesman Brendan MacCoinnaith pictured in Portadown.
Drumcree Orange Order Demonstration Scarfs drapped around the Road Sign of Drumcree near Portadown
Nationalist protesters walk to Garvaghy Road July 1997. Residents Coalition in Drumcree Portadown to voice their anger at Loyalist Parades through their area
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. Brid Rodgers and Brendan McKenna in attendance at Garvaghy Road demonstration, Portadown
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. Security Forces kept a Loyalist counter demonstration at a safe distance from Nationalist marchers near Oben Street, Portadown
Nationalist Protest March At Garvaghy Road March 1998. A young Loyalist waves the Union Jack at Royal Ulster Constabulary police in riot gear, from the Loyalist side of the town of Portadown, Northern Ireland, as a nationalist-republican protest march, passed by peacefully down the Nationalist Garvaghy road.
STAND-OFF BETWEEN PSNI AND ORANGEMEN.
Disturbances On Garvaghy Road Portadown May 1998. Rioters hurl stones at RUC riot police on the Garvaghy Road, Portadown, Northern Ireland, during disturbances following an Orange parade in the area.
An RUC officer fires plastic bullets at rioting nationalists on the Garvaghy Road
Garvaghy Road Residents Meet With David Trimble May 99. Brendan McKenna arrives at Craigavon Civic Centre to meet the First Minister David Trimble in an effort to solve the Drumcree stand off.
RIR Support The Orangemen At Drumcree January 2000. Members of the Royal Irish Regiment with a flag supporting Orangemen in Drumcree.
Army Prepare For Drumcree July 2001
O'Tooles Bar (The Heights), in the quiet Co Down village of Loughinisland where UVF gunmen burst in opened fire, during a World Cup match on June 18, 1994.
O'Tooles Bar (The Heights) in the Co. Down village of Loughinisland. Six men were shot dead by two UVF gunmen, while they were watching the 1994 World Cup on television.
As the Queen was visiting Belfast city centre in 1977, soldiers came under attack a few hundred yards away in the republican Falls Road area. An army captain was seperated from his unit and was being heavily stoned and kicked when a 'snatch squad' of his troops rushed the crowd to rescue him from the mob.
The ruins of McGurks Bar. Dec 1971
Kathleen Feeney, 14, who was shot dead by an IRA gunman in Londonderry in a failed ambush on British troops. November 1973
Funeral courtege of Kathleen Feeney, 14, who was shot dead by an IRA gunman in Londonderry in a failed ambush on British troops. November 1973
Police and rioters clash in Londonderry after an Apprentice Boys march, 1969.
Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, pictured leaving court in Belfast after charges against him involving IRA membership were dropped 1976.
Belfast IRA men on patrol with new drogue bomb in Northern Ireland 1987
Royal Highland Fusilier, Robert Thompson from Hamilton, Scotland who was killed in Northern Ireland. July 27 1980
In March 1988 two corporals, Derek Wood and David Howes, were stripped, beaten and shot dead, after driving into the path of a republican funeral in Belfast.
In March 1988 two corporals, Derek Wood and David Howes, were stripped, beaten and shot dead, after driving into the path of a republican funeral in Belfast.

The political stalemate over how Northern Ireland comes to terms with its troubled and bloody past must be broken, it was claimed last night.

The call was made as it emerged that controversial proposals on how to deal with the past had been largely rejected by people in a consultation exercise.

The rejections are revealed in responses to a consultation on proposals put forward by the Consultative Group on the Past, headed by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, published by the NIO yesterday.

Among the report’s 31 recommendations was a £12,000 payment to families of those killed in the Troubles — including relatives of dead paramilitaries.

Of the 174 people who responded to the report, most rejected it without comment.

The consultation also received 72 responses from organisations, political parties, academics and medical experts.

Alliance Party justice spokesperson Stephen Farry said there was increasing frustration at the political stalemate around how we deal with the past.

“There remain strong competing demands for truth and justice in this society,” he said. “These cannot simply be swept under the carpet.”

He called upon Secretary of State Owen Paterson to lead cross-party talks to find some agreement on how to address the past.

“There is both a responsibility and an opportunity for the Secretary of State to provide leadership on this matter,” he added.

“Owen Paterson should consider convening talks between the parties and driving the process to find agreement on what can happen.”

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond jnr was murdered by the UVF, said there needs to be a new approach to dealing with the past.

“A group should be set up made up of victims and ask the victims what is the way forward for us,” he said. “Until victims are represented on these groups, as far as I'm concerned, it's a complete waste of time and money.”

The DUP’s victims spokesman Jeffrey Donaldson said too many of Eames-Bradley’s recommendations had been unacceptable.

“I am not surprised by the very negative public response,” he said. “There are key elements of the report that are deeply flawed, particularly the proposal that some form of recognition payment should be made to those who lost relatives during the Troubles — but critically that this should include the families of terrorists.

“We also reject the notion of some kind of all-embracing commission which, on the basis of past evidence, would simply result in a rewriting of a history of the Troubles with the Army and police in the dock and the terrorists getting away in the smoke.

“That is also unacceptable.

“What we want is families getting the truth and justice from those who perpetrated these evil deeds.

“The Eames-Bradley Report was not the best way of achieving this.”

Sinn Fein victims spokesman Francie Molloy said there was concern that the lack of consensus would be used as an excuse to stall the whole issue of truth and reconciliation.

“The reality is that you will not get a consensus on dealing with the past amongst political parties, primarily because the future is still contested,” he said.

Mr Molloy said an independent, international truth recovery mechanism which examines the causes and consequences of the Troubles was what was needed now.

Mr Paterson said he hoped that the publication of a summary of responses “demonstrates the transparent and measured approach I intend to take”.

“I am committed to listening to the views of people from across the community in Northern Ireland on the role I can play on this important issue,” he said.

‘I want them to tell a court why they took away my son’

By Claire McNeilly

Brian Service, a 35-year-old Catholic from north Belfast, was shot dead by breakaway terrorist group the Red Hand Defenders in October 1998. The random killing devastated his mother Anne, now 71, who had previously lost another close family member to the Troubles.

“It was about 7am when I heard the knock. I assumed it would be Brian, who lived nearby, wanting to come in for some heat. His flat was always freezing.

“I went downstairs and saw two people in plain clothes. I assumed they were police. It’s never good news when they come to your door.

“They asked me if I had a son called Brian. I immediately thought there’d been an accident, murder never crossed my mind.

“Brian had gone to his older brother David’s house. They had a couple of beers and watched a bit of sport before Brian decided to go home around midnight.

“David told him to take a taxi but he shrugged the idea off, saying there was peace now. Ten minutes later he was dead.

“When I finally realised what the police were there for, I couldn’t take it in. How could he have been killed? Who could have killed him?

“I remember running up the stairs to my husband and screaming ‘Brian’s dead’, over and over again. It’s something you live in fear of all your life, yet never think it will happen to you.

“Afterwards we walked around the house like zombies. We were like strangers, we were incapable of talking about it.

“Brian’s younger brother Martin fell to pieces. I think we all did. I was 59 when Brian was killed.

“All my life, for some reason, I’d dreaded turning 60... and I spent my 60th birthday at Brian’s grave.

“It sounds strange but, subconsciously, maybe I knew something bad was going to happen all along.

“No-one was ever charged with Brian’s murder, but I felt numb towards those who pulled the trigger that night. That’s what they were taught to do.

“It’s those who made them take the gun who are really responsible — the men who wear suits and hold the power. I want them to tell a court why they took away my boy. I blame our politicians for what Northern Ireland was like at that time, but I don’t forgive the people who murdered my son. He had a right to live.

“We do need reconciliation if we are going to stop other families going through what any of the victims of the Troubles have been through, and I know, I’ve experienced it twice. In 1971 I was staying at my sister’s house when a loyalist gunman stormed in and shot her husband dead. He also tried to murder her, but the bullet missed its target.

“I didn’t know what that kind of pain felt like until it came calling that day. I certainly didn’t imagine I’d have to go through it all again.”

‘I saw my detached leg fly away in front of my eyes’

By Claire McNeilly

Alex Bunting was 37 when an IRA car bomb detonated in his taxi. He lost his left leg and now lives in fear of losing his other one.

The Protestant, now 55, was living in north Belfast at the time along with wife Linda and their two children, Alex and Colin.

“The first thing I remember seeing was my leg, which had detached from my body, flying past me. I remember being flung from the car like a cannonball and ending up on the other side of the street. I heard women scream, I was awake the whole time.

“It was October 21, 1991. When I got into my car at 6am that morning it wouldn’t start, which I thought was strange. Half an hour later I tried again and it eventually started. My first job was taking a woman into the city centre. She sat in the front. I took a short cut through Sandy Row, then there was an almighty flash. I don’t know why, but I hit the door and pushed the lady down. That probably saved us, otherwise we would have been blown through the roof.

“At the time I felt nothing. My left leg blew off me in two parts and the lower part of my right and part of the thigh was blown off. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.

“A doctor was in the car behind, and then an Army foot patrol arrived. The soldiers had field dressings which the doctor used. The ambulance arrived quickly and I was in the City Hospital operating theatre within 11 minutes.

“They put 37 pints of blood through me. Initially they couldn’t stop the arteries bleeding. I spent three months in intensive care. For 10 weeks I was on a life support machine.

“Coins worth £16.30, in different denominations, had been lodged in my body. They gave me it as I was leaving hospital; some compensation, eh?

“I learned to walk again with an artificial leg. My wife left her job to become my full-time carer.

“My youngest son suffers from post-traumatic stress. He saw my car shortly after it was blown up. He was on his way to school when the bus drove past. I still have flashbacks and suffer from phantom pains in my leg. Sometimes my stump jumps and I have to hold it down. The circulation in my right leg isn’t great, they might have to remove it too. I wouldn’t want to know the names of the people behind this. They were probably some young guys sent out to do the job — which they later said was a case of mistaken identity.

“Knowing who they were would probably bring back a lot of feelings, and who wants that?

“‘Forgiveness’ is a bit strong, but I don’t think those who did this to me are worth thinking about. A public apology wouldn’t make any difference. I would accept it, but I’m a realist and I don’t think it will ever come to that.

“We need reconciliation but I can never see paramilitaries admitting blame. As for prosecuting those behind the atrocities, the truth is I don’t believe that will ever happen.”

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