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Terrible legacy of the Troubles means we must focus on a better future, not another inquiry into the past

Published 22/09/2016

Every death during the Troubles devastated a family, often with serious, long-term consequences.

I think, for example, about the Niedermayer family, whose husband and father, Thomas, was murdered by the IRA, before both his wife and two daughters took their own lives.

Every family member who is involved in such tragic events reacts differently. It is entirely understandable that the families bereaved by the events in Ballymurphy in 1971 should pursue their cause so fervently.

However, the resources we have available to deal with the past must be used to give victims an equal opportunity of finding truth and justice through an investigation.

That is if the political will is there to look at Troubles incidents forensically, including the murders of more than 700 members of the security forces, where no one has yet been held responsible.

At the insistence of Irish nationalism, the perpetrators of the majority of Troubles crimes became part of the political process, which makes the past particularly difficult to deal with.

We need some honesty from politicians on that point, rather than unrealistic promises.

The Troubles should not have happened, but they did.

It's unlikely that those who suffered the greatest loss during those years will ever have the truth and justice which they seek, but we can work to ensure that what happened to them can never be repeated.

That means understanding the impact violence had on their lives and teaching our children about its terrible consequences.

In the meantime, we need an honest and tough discussion about dealing with our future, rather than another consultation into the past.


Holywood, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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