Irish Republican News · June 2, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Murphy ‘reconciliation’ comments questioned

It is absurd for British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy to talk about the conditions for a truth and reconciliation commission when his government remains a combatant, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams said yesterday.

On Wednesday, Mr Murphy claimed Ireland was not ready for a reconciliation process, effectively admitting that the causes of conflict remain in British-occupied Ireland. However, his comments were intended as a swipe against Sinn Féin and the IRA.

Mr Murphy was continuing his “fact-finding” visit to South Africa as part of a “consultation process” for a truth and reconciliation programme in the North. Republicans have dismissed the exercise as an increasingly bizarre and off-message PR stunt.

Mr Adams pointed out that the British government was not a neutral player in the conflict.

At the launch of his party’s election manifesto in Dublin, he said: “The British government are belligerents. They are combatants. They are not referees. They are not neutral and they cannot come out any more than (PSNI Chief Constable) Hugh Orde has to come up with some plan or protocol for dealing with these issues.

“I think that there has to be a holistic, comprehensive approach to it and given the history of the British government`s refusal to co-operate with the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombs, the Saville Inquiry and to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, I think we have an awful lot of work to do to convince that government that it needs to take a positive and constructive role.”

“I also think it is absurd that Paul Murphy or at least a statement in his name in South Africa should talk about the people there being able to reconcile because they wanted to. He conveniently left out the fact that they had democracy restored when certainly in the north of Ireland it is still just a good idea. They had an end to apartheid and still here we have partition.”

Mr Murphy said that people in the North wanted reconciliation, they would have to show a desire to do so.

“In South Africa, people wanted to come together after apartheid,” he observed.

“We need to learn that healing a nation can’t work unless both sides want to reconcile... Unlike South Africa, we still lack political consensus on reconciling.”

Mr Adams said his party was willing to engage in a debate about truth and reconciliation.

The West Belfast MP said any process had to enable victims and their families to tell their stories.

“Stories are being told in sitting rooms, they are being told in family groups and are being told in communities. They are all out there,” he said.

“And every so often a journalist will stumble upon them and gives the victims a wider audience. I think there is this element of people having to be empowered to tell their own stories but essentially a truth and reconciliation process is about trying to bring closure to a lot of these issues.

“You could argue from now till the end of the day whether it should be about justice, which we think it should be about, whether it is about truth. But a big element which we need to stress is that one of the ongoing stories is the story of collusion,” Adams said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News