Is Northern Ireland ready for informal truth process?
THE Londonderry man heading up a charity promoting peace and reconciliation has said he believes Northern Ireland may be ready for an informal truth process.
Former Assistant Chief Constable, Peter Sheridan, who leads Cooperation Ireland, said he went to an event in Falls Road library recently, where Martin McGuinness, Jackie Macdonald and other “not inconsequential people in terms of violent struggle over the last number of years, were in the one room together”.
He said on personal reflection afterwards, he felt that while being quizzed by former BBC correspondent Brian Rowan, these people were at least prepared to tell part of their story.
“What you could see happening was a willingness to accept it was their story.”
He said he did not want to make more out of the occasion or than this was his personal reflection, and that the people in the room were prepared to treat each other with respect, even when they disagreed with each other, and give their understanding, their feelings and their experiences of the past 30 years. However he said there were some parts of their stories that they did not want to reveal at this stage.
But he added: ”Maybe in that informal atmosphere there is an opportunity of at least the start of a process of how you deal with the past.”
He said there were very hard questions asked and in answering those questions, “they took it as far as they were able to take it at the minute.”
Mr Sheridan said he personally had walked behind many coffins of friends and colleagues, but said that not every crime that had happened would be solved.
Speaking on Radio Foyle, he added: “Maybe what we saw was the beginning of a starting point where at least there was an acceptance that people would start telling part of their story. People were telling it as they genuinely believed it to be true...Here was the potential of starting to find a way to deal with the past. I have no model of what this looks like afterwards, I was making a reflection of what I saw in the room that day.”
Mr Sheridan said: “If we are going to move this on, we have to be in a position of allowing people who want to move, to move. We have nothing at the minute, maybe what I saw in the Falls Road library was the start of an opportunity.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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