Belfast Telegraph

MP demands all-party talks on past

All-party talks should be held on how to deal with issues stemming from the past in Northern Ireland, an MP has said.

Naomi Long said consensus must be found on how the needs of victims can be addressed.

The Ministry of Defence is planning to compensate Bloody Sunday victims after 14 unarmed men were shot dead when soldiers opened fire on a civil rights parade in Londonderry in January 1972. Unionists have questioned why other victims are not to receive payments.

Mrs Long said: "I am calling on the Secretary of State Owen Paterson to convene talks as soon as possible amongst parties here to get started on agreeing a way forward.

"He has acknowledged that political consensus is required to take the process forward and that, on this most sensitive of issues, such consensus will be hard to achieve. I don't disagree with that analysis, but it's also clear that such consensus will not simply emerge of its own accord.

"Rather, it needs to be actively pursued with local parties and I believe the Secretary of State has a duty to drive that process forward. Convening a meeting with local political parties would be a good starting point."

The Consultative Group on the Past, co-chaired by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, reported in 2009 on ways of dealing with Northern Ireland's troubled legacy. Among its proposals was a £12,000 recognition payment to the families of all those killed during the Troubles including perpetrators, a plan which produced protest from victims and many unionists.

Mrs Long said the report provided a credible basis on which a process could be built.

"The central recommendation for a legacy commission with four separate elements of reconciliation, investigations, information recovery and thematic issues, offered a structure which could give coherence to those elements of existing good practice, such as the work of the Historical Enquiries Team, the Community Relations Council, and Commission for Victims and Survivors, and in a context focused on building a shared future.

"It would also underpin the valuable work done by those community and voluntary groups who offer vital practical support to victims and survivors."


From Belfast Telegraph