Irish Republican News · July 12, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Support for Truth Commission

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said Ireland could learn from his country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The British government is continuing to look at ways in which victims of the Troubles can talk about their personal experiences. Archbishop Tutu, the former head of the South African process, said while it was not a “universal blueprint” there were still aspects which could be adopted in the North.

“There are things that people might very well want to learn from our successes and from our failures and seek something that is tailor made, ad hoc, for the particular situation, in this case Northern Ireland” he said.

Archbishop Tutu’s comments follow a visit by former British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy to South Africa last year to explore how it handled its truth and reconciliation process.

It also comes as a new studyt shows that people in the Six Counties would support a truth commission on the style of the one carried out in South Africa.

Both nationalist and unionist communities felt such a commission should be set up and run by an international organisation like the UN and involve the British and Irish governments, the Belfast Assembly, and republican and loyalist groups.

Participants accepted the commission might not necessarily find the truth. Support was strongest among young people, with 69 per cent of those asked feeling that a commission was important.

Sixty per cent of Catholics and 44 per cent of Protestants expressed approval for a commission. But neither groups had faith in the British government to run one, 95 per cent of Catholics and 89 per cent of Protestants said they would not trust the British government. Similar levels of suspicion were directed at the NI Assembly and the Irish Government.

The study said it was difficult not to the draw the conclusion that, if people do not think a truth commission will get to the truth, then it is because they lack confidence in the governments, parties, groups and bodies most likely to be involved in the running of a commission.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News