| 14.8°C Belfast

Victims ‘broken again’ by British Government’s legacy proposals – Colin Davidson

The victims’ advocate and renowned artist said ‘it’s the first time since the Good Friday Agreement that a line has been crossed’.

Close

Colin Davidson, a victims’ advocate and internationally renowned artist, has issued an impassioned attack on the British Government’s legacy proposals in a new podcast (Judith Hill/PA)

Colin Davidson, a victims’ advocate and internationally renowned artist, has issued an impassioned attack on the British Government’s legacy proposals in a new podcast (Judith Hill/PA)

Colin Davidson, a victims’ advocate and internationally renowned artist, has issued an impassioned attack on the British Government’s legacy proposals in a new podcast (Judith Hill/PA)

Victims’ advocate and internationally renowned artist Colin Davidson has issued an impassioned attack on the British Government’s legacy proposals, claiming “it’s the first time since the Good Friday Agreement that a line has been crossed”.

In the first episode of a new podcast being launched this week, which focuses on the stories of peace activists, Ulster University’s new chancellor says he knows many victims and survivors who have been “literally broken again” by the plan.

Mr Davidson was speaking after the recent release of the Government’s command paper on legacy confirmed their intent to end all Troubles prosecutions.

Both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis argue that the current approach to legacy is not working for anyone, and that their proposals will aid reconciliation.

Close

Belfast-born artist Colin Davidson with his portrait of the Queen (Colin Davidson/PA)

Belfast-born artist Colin Davidson with his portrait of the Queen (Colin Davidson/PA)

PA

Belfast-born artist Colin Davidson with his portrait of the Queen (Colin Davidson/PA)

But Mr Davidson, who has painted an impressive array of global figures, from the Queen to Brad Pitt, is dismissive of the plan.

“My sense is this is the first time since the Good Friday Agreement that a line has been crossed and the British Government have crossed that line,” he said.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“They have said … that, if we have any compassion or empathy for anybody who lived through the dark days here, our compassion is directed towards those who killed, those who snuffed life out, who took loved ones away, who blew sons and daughters apart.”

The Peace By Piece podcast is a project set up by journalist Judith Hill, who aims to capture voices and insights of a diverse range of people passionate about peacemaking.

The series of eight episodes includes an interview with Kathleen Gillespie, the widow of Patsy, whose story was recently highlighted in the House of Commons as part of a debate on legacy.

If we knew more of the truth behind people there would be more understanding, more healingAnne Walker

Mrs Gillespie speaks movingly about her battle to ensure that her husband, killed by an IRA bomb he was forced to drive to an Army checkpoint, would have a legacy of peace.

One of her best friends, Anne Walker, also features in the series.

The two women bonded through the storytelling work that has shaped the course of both their lives.

Ms Walker was recruited by the IRA when she was 18 and left when she was in her early 20s, but in her podcast conversation offers a rare glimpse into what it was like to be a young woman in the republican paramilitary organisation.

She now leads groups in peace dialogue.

“If we knew more of the truth behind people there would be more understanding, more healing,” she added.

When it comes to loyalism there is an inherent, systemic bias that people aren’t even aware of when they begin to talk about bonfires and paradingDebbie Watters

Insights on current disquiet in loyalism also emerge in the podcast.

Debbie Watters, from restorative justice project Northern Ireland Alternatives, says: “We’re not in a good place. When it comes to loyalism there is an inherent, systemic bias that people aren’t even aware of when they begin to talk about bonfires and parading.

“My call to nationalist parties is, if you’re serious about reconciliation, let’s look at language.

“And for loyalism – it needs to change the lens it sees the world through.”

Also featured in the Peace By Piece series is refugee activist Sipho Sibanda, who talks candidly about her own experience of fleeing conflict in her native Zimbabwe.

She argues that reconciliation is not possible here until society moves beyond the narrative of two communities.

“It shouldn’t be about one community pushing over the other,” she said.

“I’m hopeful for a Belfast that has history we can talk about, but without feeling like we’re walking on eggshells; a Belfast that has forgiveness – and forgiveness comes from talking about things.”

– Peace By Piece is available on all the usual podcast platforms.


Top Videos



Privacy