Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

PUP in plea over reconciliation

The PUP put forward its views amid a political stalemate between the main parties at Stormont over a strategy to bring communities together

Nationalists need to acknowledge that Northern Ireland will remain an integral part of the UK for the foreseeable future if a process of reconciliation is to work, the Progressive Unionist Party has said.

Setting out proposals for healing sectarian divisions in the region, the PUP said it had to been driven by society, not politicians.

The party, which has links to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), put forward its vision for reconciliation amid ongoing political stalemate between the main parties at Stormont over a strategy to bring communities together.

Its document Transforming the Legacy called for a society-wide consultation exercise to establish the parameters for participation and responsibility in such a process.

"There are no political parties in Northern Ireland qualified to drive a process of reconciliation," the PUP statement argued.

"All have contributed to a greater or lesser degree to the divisions that we must address. A political party's view of reconciliation tends to reflect their own ideology and thus reconciliation becomes dependent on acceptance of their political objectives and aspirations.

"However reconciliation is defined, we believe that it will not work if conceived as an extension of the political process.

"In that instance, reconciliation will become little more than a reinforcement of the two-horse political race that currently dominates. It will be about point-scoring and securing and protecting political interest.

"No, for reconciliation to work it must be a social rather than political process. That is, it must enable all sections of society to have a say and a stake in how the past is interpreted, explained and memorised.

"Only when we have a process which is comprehensive enough to accommodate all the stories and experiences of conflict can we say that dealing with the past is now possible."

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