Britain’s Direct Ruler in the North, Owen Paterson, has dismissed Sinn Fein’s long-standing call for a truth commission to deal with the North’s past.
The Secretary of State said it was “naive” to think such a body would be able to resolve the legacy of three decades of conflict. Sinn Fein has indicated the Provisional IRA would cooperate with an independently run body that would allow those involved in the conflict to participate.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this week, Mr Paterson ruled out such a commission.
“There’s a naive belief that a new all-shining, all-glossy organisation is going to resolve the problems of the past,” he said.
“The terrible, terrible truth about many of these murders and incidents that blighted the lives of very large numbers of people is that we simply will never know.”
Sinn Fein’s victims spokesman Mitchel McLaughlin branded Mr Peterson’s approach “arrogant” and said it ignored the British government’s involvement in the conflict.
“We only have to look at the examples of the Saville inquiry to highlight that the British Government must come forward and play an active, honest and transparent role in addressing truth recovery on this island.
“Further to this we only have to look at previous approaches such as the Stevens inquiry, a 3,000 page report which was subsequently redacted, suppressed and edited so much that only 13 pages were published, as the way in which Owen Paterson cannot, nor must not, deny the fact the British Government have a lot to answer.
“Sinn Fein have made it clear that it is our view that what is required is a victim centered international, independent truth recovery process. Republicans have made it clear that we would participate in such a body.
“The British Government should make it clear whether they would participate in such a process also instead of staving off and hiding from the rights and demands of victims of this conflict.”
The family of defence lawyer Pat Finucane is to visit Downing Street in London next week, when it is understood they will be told whether a genuine inquiry into his killing will finally go ahead.
Mr Finucane was murdered in front of his family by a British/UDA death squad in 1989.
His widow Geraldine, along with the couple’s children and other family members, will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Owen Paterson on Tuesday.
In a statement released this [Friday] morning they said Geraldine Finucane will be re-iterating the fact that they will not accept anything less than a full independent public inquiry.
“My family and I have campaigned for a long time for a public inquiry. However, we are not prepared to settle for just any form of inquiry.”
Mrs Finucane said they would not be satisfied with an inquiry that “is not public, effective, independent”.
“We would not accept such an inquiry and neither will the wider public who have very serious concerns about the circumstances of Pat’s murder.”