Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today called for an Independent International Truth Commission on the confict as the best way forward on the issue of truth recovery.
Mr Adams said that the success of such a venture would be dependent on full cooperation from the British government, and accused London of resisting a number of attempts to address unanswered questions about the past.
Mr Adams’ call comes ahead of a report by the the Consultative Group on the Past -- Britain’s strongly criticised “truth panel” -- led by former Church of Ireland Archbishop Lord Eames and ex-Policing Board vice chairman Denis Bradley.
The Sinn Féin President said that there “must be a process that can deliver the truth to bereaved families as a result of independent investigation”.
“Key to the success of such a Commission is the full co-operation by all relevant parties,” he wrote, opening the possibility of testimony by IRA figures.
But Mr Adams particularly highlighted the role of the British government, saying that there had been official attempts to cover up incidents like the deaths of 11 people in Ballymurphy 37 years ago.
“For our part Sinn Féin is very mindful of all of the difficulties involved in truth recovery, particularly for victims and their families,” he wrote.
“But we believe that as society seeks to leave conflict behind and to move forward there is a requirement that all of us address the tragic human consequences of the past.”
Mr Adams said “the willingness of individuals to voluntarily participate will be greatly enhanced if the Commission is seen to be independent, have an international dimension and be fair and equitable”.
“Of course, it won’t be easy,” he added.
“There are vested groups who will not want the truth; and who will oppose the creation of a meaningful truth recovery process.
“So this is going to be an immensely difficult and painful process and experience. It must therefore be conducted in a sensitive and generous way.
“Building a united harmonious society demands that these difficult issues are dealt with in an inclusive way as a necessary part of putting the past behind us. Looking after victims and victims’ families and survivors is a significant and important part of this.”
He said any truth process would have to examine the issue of collusion.
“Brushing it under the carpet, revising our history to exorcise the role of the British state in fomenting and prolonging conflict in our country, is in no ones interest -- especially the families,” he wrote.
“Republicans have clearly acknowledged many times the hurt they inflicted during the conflict.
“I have expressed my personal and sincere regret and apologised for that hurt.
“The IRA has also acknowledged what it has done. That is the right and proper thing to do.”
Mr Adams said Sinn Féin believes a truth process should be “victim-centred”, that there should be “no hierarchy of victims” and “all processes should be politically neutral”.
He indicated a commission could be an important step towards reconciliation, but indicated that key components would be independence and an international aspect.
“Those of us charged with political responsibility must agree and deliver a process that is meaningful and substantive,” he said.
“There is an onus on all political leaders to promote this.”
Sinn Féin has put forward the following principles which it believes should underpin any effective truth recovery process: