Urge the Government to reconsider Stormont House legacy proposals
The Government has been urged to reconsider the approach proposed in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement to deal with Northern Ireland’s troubled past.
The call comes after a man whose father was killed in west Belfast in 1974 set up his own legacy process, using an interlocutor to get answers from the UVF.
Paul Crawford worked with Winston Irvine for seven years and secured a report from the UVF answering questions his family had about John’s murder.
Mr Crawford said the process he went through “won’t be for everyone” but said bereaved families should be able to get answers.
He drew comparisons to the old proposals in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, which involved interlocutors working with paramilitary groups.
The Stormont House accord gave victims a number of options, including working with armed groups through interlocutors – just as Paul did in this case
He also called the government’s proposed legacy bill, which would grant people immunity in exchange for information on Troubles crimes and halt future court cases, “fantasy island.”
The Stormont House Agreement included provisions to establish a number of mechanisms, including a cross-border independent information recovery commission, to assist those seeking information from organizations with “corporate knowledge” about the deaths of their loved ones.
Mr Crawford said: “I know not every victim would want to be involved in a trial that I have been involved in for the past few years and of course no one should ever be pushing them to do so.
“That was the beauty of the mechanism proposed in the Stormont House Agreement.
“It provided for investigations, but also gave victims an opportunity to participate in precisely this type of interviewer process with armed groups that I have been involved with and helped me.”
Queen’s University professor Kieran McEvoy said victims shouldn’t have to look for answers themselves.
“I testify to Paul’s courage and tenacity in starting this process and persevering – but victims shouldn’t have to do that. It is the state’s responsibility to provide such mechanisms and the state has failed Paul and thousands of other victims,” he said.
“As recognized in the Stormont House agreement, in addition to proper investigations, there is an opportunity to obtain information from the groups themselves responsible for past violent crimes.
“Accessing information through this route is only possible if there are armed groups that have the political will and ability to provide that information and if there are effective mechanisms in place – such as through the work of an interlocutor.”
“The Stormont House Accords offered victims a range of options, including working with armed groups through interlocutors – just as Paul did in this case.
“While the current UK bill has rightly been criticized for denying victims access to justice, lacking proper investigative powers and not providing for an amnesty regime, this bill has also resulted in the UK government abandoning the interlocutor process, on which they had agreed into law in the Stormont House Agreement and in a treaty between the British and Irish governments.
“Unfortunately, the people who will suffer most from the repeal of the Stormont-House agreement in the current legacy legislation will be the victims who could otherwise have obtained information from armed groups, as Paul did.”
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/government-university-belfast-uk-government-b1081320.html Urge the Government to reconsider Stormont House legacy proposals