Belfast Telegraph

I don't need to see loyalists in the dock for my father's murder, but even in my own family not everyone agrees

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

A man whose father was murdered by a loyalist gang has revealed how his family has very different views on how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

As debate rages over whether a line should be drawn under the past and an effective amnesty put in place, Victims and Survivors Forum member Alan Brecknell said he does not need to see his father's killers brought to justice.

However, his 80-year-old mother Ann was deeply angered by the Attorney General's suggestion that there should be no further prosecutions for Troubles-related murders.

The complex and varied views that victims and survivors hold were highlighted in the wake of Mr Larkin's statements that there should be no further inquests or investigations into crimes committed up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Mr Larkin's comments in a Belfast Telegraph interview sparked widespread shock and disbelief amongst victims throughout Northern Ireland.

Mr Brecknell (45), from Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was just seven years old when his father was murdered in a loyalist gun and bomb attack in 1975.

Trevor Brecknell had been celebrating after visiting his wife in hospital after she had given birth to a daughter.

His son spoke of the progress made and the difficult issues still to be resolved by the forum, which yesterday put on a presentation to the five main political parties as part of the Richard Haass talks.

Mr Brecknell said that there were some members who wanted to see people brought to justice and jailed – even if only for two years. Others needed to know why loved ones had died, and some needed the whole truth.

"It's my own long-held view that I don't need to see someone in the dock for my father's murder," said Mr Brecknell.

"However, even in my own family, there would be different views on that.

"While my mother also feels that, she was shocked that someone like the Attorney General could arbitrarily take away her right or anyone else's right to the pursuit of justice by not holding any more inquests or investigations."

Mr Brecknell said there were still huge issues over what truth and justice looks like.

"We don't have a definitive answer on how to move this forward, but we are still willing to work together.

"If we can sit around and have these difficult conversations, then others can," he said.

Victims' Commissioner Kathyrn Stone stressed that it is victims who need to be at the centre of any proposals for dealing with the past as she prepared to submit an advice paper from the forum to the Haass talks on Monday.

The paper will call on Northern Ireland's politicians to show due respect for the feelings of victims; to ensure that the Troubles never happen again; to pursue story- telling initiatives so that the voices of victims can be heard, and to look again at the education structure in an effort to improve how shared history is taught in our schools.

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