Belfast Telegraph

'Positive meetings' as talks on the past resume

By Noel mcAdam

Northern Ireland's past came back yet again to haunt the present as multi-party talks resumed yesterday.

However, some progress on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles was reported from the Stormont negotiations.

Alliance leader David Ford said there had been "positive meetings" with both the London and Dublin governments on a mechanism for dealing with the past.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt argued the past had to be dealt with in both jurisdictions. He said if the British Government were to create an Historical Investigations Unit - one of the proposals to emerge from the collapsed talks chaired by US diplomat Dr Richard Haass - Dublin must set up a "mirror body". A Sinn Fein delegation also met the British and Irish teams, chaired respectively by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan.

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said the British Government had to accept its own involvement in the conflict.

"It is clear that Theresa Villiers and the British Government have been actively obstructing truth recovery," he said.

"They have reneged on the commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane by British agents. The British Government fears the outcome of any inquiry with the potential to expose British state collusion in political assassinations.

"They continue to withhold information from the inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and rejected a demand for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into the Ballymurphy massacre of 11 civilians," he added.

"The British Government and their agents were active participants in the conflict. They must accept their responsibility for state killings and the role of their agents in loyalist death squads."

Meanwhile, Mr Ford urged all the parties to ensure that the current round of political talks would not end in failure.

"We must see serious engagement from all parties on all the issues under consideration," he said.

"That must mean a comprehensive agreement dealing with all the issues and not a partial or piecemeal approach.

"These talks will only succeed if political leadership is shown from all sides."

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