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Troubles victims' families want to know who murdered them and why, says MP

By Brian Rowan

Published 21/08/2015

MP Tom Elliott says Ann Travers and others deserve to know why loved ones were targeted
MP Tom Elliott says Ann Travers and others deserve to know why loved ones were targeted
Ann Travers

Families who lost loved ones in the Troubles should be told the names of those behind the killings, a unionist MP has said.

Tom Elliott was outlining what he believes a planned new information process on the past should be able to deliver.

The Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR) is one of three legacy mechanisms set out in the Stormont House Agreement.

It will not name alleged perpetrators in its reports to the families.

A new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) is also to be established as well as an Implementation and Reconciliation Group, which will oversee information or truth-recovery, archives and a report on conflict patterns and themes.

In a statement yesterday, Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP Mr Elliott said victims engaging with the new information commission will "only hear what the perpetrators want them to".

"I would love if they would bring the truth (to the Commission) and let victims know 'this is why your relative was targeted, this is how he or she was targeted and these were the people involved'," he told this newspaper.

"The problem is that, while that is what I think should happen, we know it won't happen."

"Victims need to be absolutely clear that they are not going to get anywhere near the full truth that we would expect from the perpetrators."

Asked what that meant for the ICIR, the former Ulster Unionist leader responded: "It says it's going to be a lame duck process.

"It's not going to deliver what the families want and need."

The latest thinking of the UK and Irish governments - a "shared understanding" of the ICIR role - was set out in a document given to the Executive parties in June.

Earlier this week, the Belfast Telegraph published extracts of that document, which was marked "official-sensitive".

The Commission was never intended or envisaged as some naming and shaming process.

But with historical investigations increasingly unlikely to deliver judicial closure in the majority of cases, a number of victims have made clear they were looking to the information process to answer their questions.

Several days ago Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA, told this newspaper: "If we are not going to be told who murdered our loved ones, then what is the point in it? I want to know who it was who planned the attempted murder of my father and murder of my sister and who carried it out."

It is not yet clear how republicans, loyalists and the security forces and intelligences services will co-operate with the new Commission.

But the naming of those behind the conflict killings is not part of any planned process.

However, Mark Thompson of the project Relatives For Justice said: "No process is perfect, but this may be the best chance for the greater number of families."

Precisely when the new Commission will be in place is not yet clear.

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