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Politicians 'failing' Troubles victims

The Government, Sinn Fein and the DUP are all failing the victims of Northern Ireland's decades of violence, it was claimed yesterday.

Denis Bradley, who with Lord Eames drew up ambitious plans to deal with the legacy of the Troubles, hit out after fears the Government will unveil watered-down proposals.

He declared there would be no Truth Commission and said the IRA is “leading victims up the garden path”, while the DUP is “using their divided society” to delay any probe of how and why the Troubles took place.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson will make proposals next year on dealing with the fallout of the conflict. But a conference of victims' groups in Belfast heard fears that a weak response will consign society to further years of hate and suspicion.

But Mr Bradley said: “Let me be very clear about that. I think there is roguery going on here. I think there is no desire within the IRA for a Truth Commission and I think they are leading victims up the garden path.

“So I am as angry and annoyed with the IRA as I am with the British Government ... I don't think they will come forward if Gerry Adams, not alone appealed to them, but screamed at them.”

He added: “If I would be critical of Sinn Fein on this, I would be equally critical of the DUP, who really don't want to know this issue — they really don't. It's, ‘Just let it go out there, let it float, time and tide will deal with this one'.

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“I have seen nothing of any difference from that on the DUP side ... I think they are using their very divided society — more divided than the republican/nationalist society — to actually keep this at a great distance.”

He claimed those involved in violence, including many IRA members and security force members, had no desire to reveal their past.

But other contributors claimed the outcome of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal, and the relative success of a special commission formed to gather evidence on finding the bodies of people murdered and secretly buried, had shown that co-operation could be secured from those involved in the conflict.

The conference heard praise for the Eames-Bradley report, but which observers fear the Government has effectively binned.

The event - The Past Is Still Present - included a wide range of victims' groups.

Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law were among nine killed in an IRA bomb attack on the Shankill Road in 1993, told the conference: “We cannot build the shared future that we all want, unless the past is adequately dealt with. But I don't believe our politicians will deliver unless they are under pressure.”

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