British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy has said there is no political consensus for reconciliation in Ireland.
Mr Murphy is in South Africa, where he is involved in a fact-finding mission on conflict resolution. His trip has been criticised as an unhelpful ‘solo run’ on the issue.
He said the people of the Six Counties must want to come together before they can be reconciled.
“In South Africa people wanted to come together after apartheid.
“We need to learn that healing a nation can’t work unless both sides want to reconcile.”
Murphy said active republican movements and criminal elements still posed a threat to peace and stability.
“Unlike South Africa we still lack political consensus on reconciling,” he said.
Murphy said South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), established in 1995 under the leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was a possible model.
It investigated acts of violence committed by all sides during decades of white-minority rule. The commission granted amnesty to perpetrators willing to tell the truth about their actions provided they were politically motivated.
Last week, Murphy said he was exploring the possibility of setting up a forum to allow people to confess their crimes with legal immunity.
“We will not use the same model as the TRC but it will help us understand how victims and perpetrators could come together,” Murphy said.
PSNI chief Hugh Orde was strongly criticised by unionists this weekend for suggesting that the granting of amnesty might be required in any reconciliation process. Nationalists, however, believed his remarks may have been more attuned to elements of the British Crown forces.
Nationalists believe the British government are using the establishment of a truth forum to block inquiries into controversial killings. Sinn Féin has criticised the British government for portraying itself as an honest broker in a truth process when they were the major combatant in the conflict.
Commentator Brian Feeney questioned whether a truth and reconciliation process could work at the present time.
“Is Tony Blair using it as a pawn to try and break the political logjam, because if he is it won’t work, “ he said.
“There have been about 40 truth and reconciliation processes around the world in places like South Africa and Peru. The only time they have worked is when the conflict has definitively come to an end. That is not the case here.”