Reconciliation will falter if it is used as a political football, insists PUP
A loyalist party linked to the UVF has set out its stall on the vexed questions of reconciliation and the past.
At a news conference in Belfast, the PUP said no political party here was "qualified to drive a process of reconciliation".
The comment was part of a statement, Transforming The Legacy, which spokesman Winston Irvine said was designed to affirm the PUP's commitment to reconciliation and developing a framework for dealing with the past. "However reconciliation is defined, we believe that it will not work if conceived as an extension of the political process," the document reads.
"In that instance reconciliation will become little more than a reinforcement of the two-horse political race that currently dominates. It will be about point-scoring and securing and protecting political interest.
"For reconciliation to work it must be a social rather than political process. That is, it must enable all sections of society to have a say and a stake in how the past is interpreted and memorised."
This document is being presented uch as an initial statement – something that will lead to a series of papers further detailing party thinking.
And, in part, it answers recent statements from republican leaders, including Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Declan Kearney, on national reconciliation and an agreed Ireland.
"There needs to be a recognition that for the foreseeable future Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and reconciliation needs to be sought in the context of that political reality," the statement says.