One of the proposers of the controversial Eames-Bradley Report payment of £12,000 for every death in the Northern Ireland Troubles has said he would fight on for the payment to be made.
Denis Bradley, co-chair with Lord Eames of the Consultative Group on the Past which made the proposals, is still behind the idea despite the former Church of Ireland primate having since admitted it may have been a mistake to propose the payment.
Secretary of State Shaun Woodward has ruled out such a payment for every life lost — whether innocent civilian, soldier, policeman or terrorist — saying the time was not right for such a recognition payment.
But Mr Bradley, former vice-chairman of the Policing Board, said: “I would still fight very strongly for the recognition payment. We recommended the payment not because it came into our heads but because it came from some of the relatives' heads.
“It is the voice of the voiceless and I will continue to speak on their behalf.”
He admitted a payment was a “crude instrument” but said 30 or 40 years of violence had also been crude.
“This is some kind of acknowledgement and those who don't want to take it, don't have to take it, no-one is going to force it down their throats.”
And Mr Bradley told a public meeting on the Eames-Bradley report, held in St Mary's University College on the Falls Road as part of the West Belfast Festival yesterday, that there had been many reasons why the payment recommendation had been made.
“We recommended it because we thought it was the right thing to do. We recommended it because the Irish government had already done it for 333 people who were killed.
“If the conflict was inherently a dispute about Britishness and Irishness and the Irish had already done this, it would seem to us to be an injustice for it not to happen to people who happened to live in the six counties,” he said.
They had also recommended it because compensation payment had been “terribly badly mismanaged”.
Political parties are currently engaged in a consultation process on the report set up by Mr Woodward and Mr Bradley urged people to let the parties know their opinions before the closing date of October.
Politicians who spoke out saying they knew what victims wanted needed to be careful, he said, because victims were not a homogeneous group.
Some were looking for one thing, others for something else.
“Some are looking for justice and want to see someone in the dock. Others are not looking for justice, all they are looking for is the truth — what happened and why it happened,” he said. “There are some people who are looking for neither justice or truth and just want it to be left alone.”
Victims were also not just single people, whole communities had been victimised and the whole of society had a legacy it had to deal with, he said.