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Victims need 'truth and acknowledgement'

Judith Thompson, Commissioner for Victims and Survivors says the Stormont House Agreement represents a “significant opportunity” for victims. Picture by Ann McManus
Connla Young

NEW Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson has said those impacted by the Troubles need “truth and acknowledgement”.

Ms Thompson was speaking as victims and campaign groups met with officials involved in drafting controversial legislation arising from the Stormont House Agreement.

The British government shelved plans to table a bill on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles after campaigners and nationalist politicians voiced concerns about the proposed legislation.

Under the agreement, which was reached last December, the British government intends to set up a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), Independent Commission on Information Retrieval and Oral History Archive.

However, objections have been raised over government plans to control what information is published through HIU reports on “national security” grounds.

Ms Thompson confirmed that concerns have been raised with her office, adding that “misinformation” has made “people anxious about this legislation”.

She was speaking as victims met with representatives of the Northern Ireland Office, Department of Justice and the Public Records Office in Belfast yesterday.

Ms Thompson said the Stormont House Agreement represents a “significant opportunity” for victims.

“We need to get this right but it would be a real missed opportunity if we walk away from it."

She said concerns about the proposed ‘national security’ veto has been raised by people on all sides of the community including ex-members of the security forces who are worried that the “use of informers may have hampered investigations”.

“Its not an issue for one part of the community,” she said.

Meanwhile former south African president FW de Klerk has said people who were killed during the Troubles should not be given a blanket amnesty.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa offered an amnesty from prosecution if combatants could prove they were motivated by politics and made a full confession.

"I am more a supporter of amnesty up to a point but for cold-blooded, premeditated murder or assassination I personally felt amnesty should not be given,” he said.

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