Moore than 3500 people were killed during three decades of fighting in Northern Ireland, 40000 injured, and what has been gained? Are things that much different now to when it all started? Have the divisions in
society been closed? John Larkin, Attorney General has said he
believes there should be no more prosecutions for past killings which I suppose
is a positive step seeing as to how some IRA killers have become respectable
members of parliament and vendettas can go on for ever. In the absence
of legal proceedings, Mr. Larkin believes relatives of Troubles victims should
be given as much access as possible to records to help them find out what
happened to their loved ones. Northern Ireland
"We can't really be surprised if people don't tell us as long as the theoretical threat of prosecution remains," he said.”
So what about relatives of victims who say they want the killers to be brought before the courts?
Mr. Larkin said there was little realistic possibility of successful prosecutions taking place.
"I have had conversations with people in that very position and I have drawn attention to the extreme improbability of criminal proceedings ever taking place," he said. Troubles victims have called on politicians to prioritize dealing with the past and put in place new measures to deliver truth and justice.
They also want new mechanisms to investigate past human rights violations and abuses. Alex Bunting, an IRA bomb victim, said: "No one wants to listen - especially within politics."
Michael Gallagher, of the Omagh Self-help and Support Group, whose son Aidan was killed in the Omagh bomb in 1998, said: "Victims feel like they have become an unwelcome embarrassment to some politicians in
Belfast, London and Dublin. There are
thousands of other victims and bereaved family members across Northern Ireland
who want to see dealing with the past' given a new, high priority by our
Danny Toland, whose father John Toland was shot dead by the UDA in Eglinton, County Londonderry, in 1976, said: "The murder of my father was investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), but we were left with more questions than answers, particularly around the extent of collusion which took place between the UDA and the security forces, which the HET could only say was 'likely'.
"What is now needed is a new, more independent and effective means of investigating all past cases where there are outstanding questions."
Mr. Bunting, who was badly injured by an IRA booby-trap car bomb in
in 1991, said: "As victims, we find ourselves having to drive this process
"The political will to grasp the nettle of the past has been missing. That now needs to change.
"They are pinning their hopes on these talks now, to deliver the truth and the answers that will allow them to turn the page on this painful chapter for all of
Amnesty has called for the
UK government to establish a new
method of dealing with the past that would permit controversial killings and
attacks carried out by all sides, including state agents, to be
re-investigated. Over the last decade a patchwork of measures, including
isolated investigations, have failed to establish the full truth about the
violations and abuses of the past.
If Nazi war criminals after nearly seventy years since the end of World War Two can still be found and prosecuted why is
Ireland proving so difficult? Are there establishment cover-ups
somewhere down the line? Or maybe it’s because Protestants and Catholics still
can’t really talk to one another. Sad but, while still divided by religion,
only too human. Witness the ongoing Shia Sunni conflict in the Middle East and Pakistan
for example. So what eventually will happen in Afghanistan? And how will the
Syrian crisis which evidently is already spilling over into Lebanon end? Anybody care to hazard
Well, here I am confined to the house and a wheelchair, only to go out in the car, getting in with assistance and great difficulty and finding getting out even more difficult. My legs haven’t completely gone but walking with frame just a few yards leaves me breathless and the culprits, the cardiologist who examined me yesterday says, are two blocked arteries; but for the moment nothing more than a change in medication is prescribed to see how it goes. The degeneration has happened so fast, in a matter of weeks, but that’s all part of the aging process I suppose. Now that I am virtually immobile I think nostalgically of all the little everyday things I would like to do. Strange how one misses them.