Belfast Telegraph

'Little recognition' for NI victims

Victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland have received little recognition of what happened to them, it was claimed.

Alan McBride said the impact on people's lives had been barely acknowledged. He added that storytelling had an important part to play in dealing with the past.

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister has established a victims' service to provide support for those bereaved or injured during the 30-year conflict.

Mr McBride said: "Victims and survivors are told by politicians almost on a daily basis that their needs must be at the centre of any attempt to take us forward.

"But the reality is that they have seen precious little acknowledgement or recognition of what happened to them and the effect it had."

A victims' service established by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), was recently criticised by users and major changes are planned.

It organises counselling and other support for those affected by the violence.

Meanwhile, a leading Holocaust expert has said now is the time for a major oral history project in Northern Ireland because young people and future leaders need to know and understand what was done and not done during the Troubles.

Dr Robert Ehrenreich, the director of university programs at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, said they need to know from those who had direct experience; whether victims or perpetrators.

He will be the keynote speaker on Wednesday at Storytelling and the Past, a major Belfast conference exploring the potential for storytelling as an important part of addressing the legacy of the Troubles.

Dr Ehrenreich will tell the audience that while a number of first hand testimonies were collected immediately after the war it was not until television and film dramatisations like Holocaust (1978) and Schindler's List (1993) that people wanted to know what really happened.

Before that many survivors were too traumatised to speak about their experiences and populations simply did not want to hear, he will add.

The academic will also say their testimony was vital to provide a perspective that could not be found in official documentation alone.

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