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We can't ignore plight of Troubles bereaved

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 19/05/2016

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

Suzanne Breen's compelling reports in this newspaper today and yesterday lay bare the nightmare that those bereaved by the Troubles have undergone - some of them for decades.

These are the authentic voices of people who have suffered grevious loss and who, despite all the promises, have never received the full truth about how their loved ones died, never mind gained justice for those deaths.

The reports cover a wide spectrum of victims - a woman shot dead by the IRA for being an informer; a police officer killed by loyalists, possibly with security force collusion; a couple killed in the IRA Enniskillen bombing; a man shot dead at the roadside by the IRA; a woman shot dead by soldiers in her garden.

What their children - many were very young when the death occurred - have in common is a yearning for justice in some shape or form. That might give them, if not closure, at least the opportunity to move on more fully with their lives.

Their grief cries out over the decades yet it appears that all they receive are platitudes and promises. We cannot even arrive at a shared definition of victim - is that someone who was totally uninvolved in the conflict or does it include members of the security forces or, most controversially, members of paramilitary organisations?

Quite simply we cannot ignore the plight of those bereaved by the Troubles. Each had their lives changed irrevocably by the events which took their loved ones' lives and their lives since have been lived in the shadow of that violence.

First Minister Arlene Foster, when launching her party's Assembly election manifesto, pledged to support the victims of the Troubles.

Now that she has been returned for another five-year term it is incumbent on her - indeed on all the parties - to make good on that pledge.

Politicians said after the signing of the Fresh Start document late last year that they were closer now than ever to getting to grips with the legacy of the past. That was a clever, but meaningless, phrase as they are still a long distance from an agreed solution.

The bereaved have suffered for far too long and the devolved administration must recognise this inescapable fact. Even the glimpses our reports give into the lives of these people show the anguish they went through and continue to go through. No civilised society can continue to be deaf to their pleas.

Belfast Telegraph

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