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Editor's Viewpoint: Report mustn't be totally dismissed

Bit by bit the Eames/Bradley report in how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles is being shelved, if not dismantled.

The report got off to the worst possible start when the recommendation to pay the relatives of all victims - including terrorists - £12,000 was greeted with widespread anger. That soured the reception given to the remainder of the report, which contained some well-meaning suggestions for coming to terms with the past.

Now the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster says that the province will not tolerate another of the report's recommendations - that evidence given to a future truth commission would not be used to prosecute any witness. The committee argues that a so-called truth amnesty would be a step too far. It also questions the need for the establishment of a Legacy Commission which would take over the role of the Police Ombudsman and also the Historical Enquiries Team, the specialist unit set up to investigate unsolved killings during the Troubles.

A further suggestion, that the devolved administration here should fund any future public inquiries into past events, is another powerful indicator of current thinking at Westminster. Essentially, MPs are saying that we should draw a line under the past and not ask too many awkward questions. If we want to go down that route, then we will have to pay the bill ourselves.

While we cannot go on indefinitely picking over the sores of the Troubles it must be remembered that the conflict left a huge legacy of hurt and that the relatives of those killed and those who were maimed have a right to know why they were targeted, even if it is not possible to determine exactly who was responsible. The Eames/Bradley report was an honest attempt to confront uncomfortable issues and it should not be shelved dismissively. If the timing is not right now for some of the recommendations, their time may yet come.

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