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Questions will remain for loved ones

By Brian Rowan

Published 18/08/2015

Information-retrieval or truth-recovery depends very much on co-operation.

It is not just about the IRA and the other republican and loyalists organisations, but many others.

There are families who have questions about police and army and intelligence agencies - questions not just for the British Government but the Irish Government also.

The most senior police officers have been saying for a long time that investigations will not answer the many questions.

So this Commission - the ICIR - will have an important part to play. It is not about naming and shaming. This was never its envisaged role.

But it is about assisting families.

We know how the Commissions on 'the disappeared' and on decommissioning have worked.

They have been off-stage, private and have involved the use of interlocutors providing a contact point between the Commissions and different organisations.

In terms of the ICIR, the fine detail is still being worked out.

But it all comes back to that question of co-operation - how republicans, loyalists, police, army, intelligence services and governments see their roles.

There are many questions that will not be answered by the many sides.

There is also concern about the five-year timeframe given to the investigation and information processes; a view that it is not long enough.

For many the investigations unit may be where they go first in their search for answers, before consideration is given to the information-retrieval process.

And there is a concern that they may run out of time.

Within the proposals of the Stormont House Agreement, an Implementation and Reconciliation Group will oversee the information-retrieval process and the archive where everyone can record their story and experience.

Further down the road, a report will also be compiled on the patterns and themes to emerge in the conflict years.

These were not detailed in the Stormont House Agreement, but were listed in the documents of the Hass/O'Sullivan negotiations.

They include collusion, sources of finance and arms for the IRA and loyalists, alleged ethnic cleansing in border regions and interface neighbourhoods, allegations of shoot-to-kill and was there a policy behind the disappeared?

This is just part of a long list.

The focus now is on the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement - getting done what was agreed at the end of last year.

And this has become part of the Stormont stand-off.

Stuck in that jam over welfare reform.

The past is still waiting for a process - but that process will leave many questions unanswered.

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