No ruling out the truth
No ruling out the truth

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has told Britain’s Direct Ruler, Owen Paterson, that his government cannot rule out an independent international Truth Commission for the North of Ireland.

Mr Doherty met Paterson at the Westminster parliament in London on Tuesday as multi-party talks were being held on the issue.

The topic was raised again amid the controversy over the collapse of a near-farcical ‘supergrass’ trial involving senior loyalist paramilitaries last week, as well as the rejection of a court appeal by republican politician Gerry McGeough over his recent conviction on IRA charges dating from 1981.

“Recent comments by Owen Paterson opposing a truth commission-style approach to dealing with the legacy of the past bordered on the contemptible towards those who suffered throughout the conflict,” Mr Doherty said.

Any British attempt to rule out an independent international Truth Commission was “arrogant and completely ignores the fact that the British Government was a party to the conflict”, he said.

“Republicans have made it clear that we would participate in such a body. The British Government should accept that it was central to the conflict and make it clear that it would participate in such a process instead of prevaricating and attempting to portray itself as some sort of neutral referee between two warring factions.

“This portrayal is both dishonest and disingenuous and makes no contribution to dealing with the past on a basis of openness and transparency.”

DUP leader Peter Robinson, who also met with Owen Paterson for talks on how to address the past, said the issue could not be ignored.

But he claimed there would be no point in establishing a truth commission because former paramilitaries would not tell the truth.

Mr Robinson said the issue was difficult but could not be ignored.

Addressing the Newry and Armagh DUP Association’s annual dinner, he asked: “What would be the purpose of having a truth commission when we know without a doubt that the terrorists will not be coming forward to tell the truth?

“All you would get, once again, would be the police and army in the dock and history being distorted,” he said.

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© 2012 Irish Republican News