Belfast Telegraph

McArdle row shows conflict not healed: report authors

By Anne Madden

Two high-profile authors of the controversial Eames-Bradley report on how to deal with Northern Ireland's troubled past have defended its aims in the wake of a row over Sinn Fein special adviser Mary McArdle.

Former members of the Consultative Group On The Past, Denis Bradley and Rev Lesley Carroll, called for a renewal of the debate to tackle the legacy of the Troubles in light of recent controversies involving Sinn Fein appointments.

The group's report, known as the Eames-Bradley Report, published in January 2009 contained 31 proposals, including the controversial suggestion of compensating all victims of violence. The report was effectively sidelined - but the issues it dealt with have continued to surface.

The report's authors were speaking on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday following a controversial fortnight in which convicted murderer, Mary McArdle was revealed as a highly-paid Sinn Fein adviser at Stormont. This intensifed after IRA bomber Sean McGlinchey was elected mayor of Limavady.

Mr Bradley said the report, which he co-chaired with retired Church of Ireland Primate Lord Eames, was not implemented because the British and Irish governments at the time "wanted to withdraw psychologically from Northern Ireland and left it to our politicians".

"The British Government and the Irish government have to deal with this issue," he said. "And they need to deal with it in consultation with our local politicians, but they need to take the lead on it. Our politicians are fearful of taking the lead and are perhaps not capable of taking the lead. But they can follow on this one."

Mr Bradley argued that the conflict has been dealt with on a political level with the establishment of institutions, but the broader community has not dealt with the conflict and those issues "have been allowed to fester".

He gave two examples: the 1971 Ballymurphy killings, in which 11 civilians were shot dead by the Army and the experiences of Protestants living along the border in Armagh during the conflict.

Rev Carroll, a Presbyterian minister in north Belfast, said she would not change anything about the Eames-Bradley report, saying it was based on widespread consultation with people in Northern Ireland and that the debate focused on just one paragraph of the report - the £12,000 compensation payments to all victims.

"It is interesting that we have gone back to it [the report]. Maybe it is a sign today when we are talking about it again that society has grown up," she added.

Background

The Eames-Bradley report was named after its two chairs, Lord Robin Eames and Denis Bradley - both high profile figures representing the unionist and nationalist communities respectively. The report was published in January 2009 and contained 31 proposals for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

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