Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Victims' craving for justice still ignored

Editor's Viewpoint

It is ironic that on the day of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the plight of one group of people who have gained little if anything from that accord was highlighted.

Survivors and the bereaved of the Troubles can validly feel aggrieved that the devolved administrations which were in place during the last two decades have not addressed this terrible legacy of the past.

And a survey published yesterday sends a clear message to politicians that a significant proportion of the population wants to see this issue moved forward.

The nearest that we have come to properly addressing the legacy of the past was through the Eames/Bradley report, but it foundered over one of its more than 30 recommendation - that there should be a £12,000 payment to all families, including those of paramilitaries - who were bereaved during the Troubles.

The controversy over this proposal derailed the entire report and left victims and survivors to listen to more years of sterile debate on what should be done to help them.

Yet this latest survey shows that 73% of the public would support a pension for those severely injured during the conflict. That underlines the wish of the public to see proper recognition for survivors and the bereaved.

Some 58% of those questioned said they felt it was important to deal with the past, and 26% - equating to 380,000 people - said they or a family member continue to be affected by an incident from the Troubles.

That demonstrates the depth to which legacy issues permeate this society, and while there are obviously some who hope that the issue will simply fade away through the passage of time, it is obvious it is an issue that will continue to drip poisonously down through the generations.

In any case it is indefensible that those directly affected by the Troubles should not be recompensed in some way. Any hopes they had for justice have realistically faded. Likewise, the prospect of meaningful truth recovery is unlikely as too many people have too many secrets they do not want uncovered.

If they cannot have justice or truth, can they not at least have compassion?

Yet who will deliver even that? With no functioning devolved administration, the onus falls on the British Government which, undoubtedly, will declare this a devolved matter and wash its hands, Pilate-like, of any responsibility.

Belfast Telegraph

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