Belfast Telegraph

The agonies of the Troubles continue

Editor's Viewpoint

What does the legacy of Northern Ireland's recent violent past really mean? For your answer read the hugely moving interview with Kenneth Llewellyn in this newspaper today. His brother Samuel, dubbed the Good Samaritan, was shot dead by the IRA nearly 40 years ago when helping to board up homes damaged in a bombing on Belfast's Falls Road.

The murder left an indelible mark on the family and Kenneth, haunted by dark thoughts, tried to kill himself several times. That is what the legacy of the past really is and there must be thousands of families who have been similarly affected.

The Llewellyn family faces new despair after the only person convicted of killing Samuel was cleared by judges who said they felt significant unease about the safety of the original verdict. Patrick Livingstone served 17 years for the killing. The Llewellyn family, like so many others, now feel frustrated and angry that no-one has ever been brought to justice for a particularly nasty murder.

There was more bad news for bereaved relatives yesterday when the Historical Enquiries Team, the body set up to investigate more than 3,000 unsolved Troubles killings, was slated for the way it conducted investigations into killings carried out by the security forces. What is particularly galling for relatives is that this shortcoming was highlighted four years ago, denied by the HET, and nothing done to improve the investigations.

The Llewellyn case and the report into the HET both demonstrate the difficulty of dealing with the past and helping victims to move on. Even the best intentioned proposals to address the problem seem to continually attract controversy.

The only holistic approach, the Eames-Bradley report, floundered chiefly on a proposal to pay compensation to every bereaved family, including relatives of terrorists. Until politicians at Stormont come up with a better solution, Eames-Bradley, in the round, offers most hope. Yet, there aren't many victims' families optimistic their suffering will ever be properly acknowledged, never mind get justice.

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