Victims still crying out for justice
A distressing repercussion of the Troubles is the backlog of cases still to be investigated, so that relatives who seek justice can finally find out what really happened to their loved ones. This situation has been dragging on for years, but the latest developments look like making the investigations even less satisfactory.
Today, the Belfast Telegraph reveals that the new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) will not be able to compel witnesses and suspects to attend interviews for questioning, unlike its predecessor the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
This means that some of the worst incidents of the Troubles, including Bloody Sunday, the Droppin' Well, Claudy and other outrages, may never be solved.
For many years the families of the victims have waited for redress, and we yet again deplore the failure of the authorities to address the needs and hopes of these people.
They are still crying out for justice, and if not that, for some form of truth, and perhaps above all, for closure. The vast majority of the public will be wondering why the new Historical Investigations Unit will not have these powers, and what was the reasoning for this backward step.
The authorities yet again have overlooked the cleansing power that such disclosures on the past would bring, and we all should be angry on behalf of the people whose attempts to get to the truth seem to become mired in yet more failure.
An added, and serious, complication is that these people are not getting any younger, and time is not on their side.
Some of these crimes have been committed several decades ago, and with the passing of time the likelihood of discovering the details of what happened becomes more difficult.
Our collective failure to deal adequately with this problem remains a stain on our society, and on the peace process itself, and many people will go to their graves without knowing what really happened to their loved ones. On many occasions we have called on the authorities to show greater determination and understanding in trying to deal with this difficult topic.
The families of the victims have suffered more than enough already, without having to face a further rigmarole of misguided bureaucracy. Instead of things getting better, they seem to be getting worse.