Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Symbolic act of contrition may heal our past

INEVITABLY, truth and justice will never be achieved for every victim of the Troubles. All organisations and institutions involved, from paramilitary groups to the Government, are guilty of wrongdoing by action, omission, policy, condolence, incitement or attitude.

While paramilitary groups might claim responsibility for some murders and atrocities, the individuals who carried out those acts will not willingly and publicly confess to their crimes.

Police, Army and Government will not publicly confess to collusion and criminal actions.

The truth, in many cases, will never be known and no one will be brought to justice. At the very least, an admission of general guilt, a public act of contrition and acceptance of punitive justice is required of all parties. To give symbolic closure, I suggest each organisation should volunteer a representative to deliver the admission of guilt, make an act of contrition and accept punishment.

The volunteer should, where possible, have been a senior figure in the group during the Troubles.

Punishment should imprisonment, equivalent to time allocated to individuals found retrospectively guilty of crimes committed prior to the Good Friday Agreement (I believe that to be two years.)

The volunteer prisoners should be housed at the Maze, where they should design and build a reconciliation centre.

DENNIS GOLDEN

Strabane, Co Tyrone

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