Future Policies for the Past


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Future Policies for the Past

Future Policies for the Past
Report No. 13

Edited by Brandon Hamber, Dorte Kulle and Robin Wilson for Democratic Dialogue (2001)

ISBN 1 900281 12 0 Paperback 104pp

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Democratic Dialogue
Report 13
February 2001

Democratic Dialogue
53 University Street
Belfast BT7 1FY
Tel: -44-(0)28-9022-0050
Fax: -44-(0)28-9022 0051
E-mail: info@democraticdialogue.org
Web site:

Cover design by Dunbar Design
Photographs by Lesley Doyle
Printed by Regency Press Contents
Cover photograph by Dermott Dunbar


From the back cover:

No issue is perhaps more sensitive in Northern Ireland than that of how to address the victims of the last three decades of violence. Enduring personal grief is compounded by adversarial political argument, with little willingness to assume responsibility for what has taken place in the past and not much clarity about what approach should be adopted in the future.

But victims, like their continued suffering, are not going to go away. Indeed, the salience of the issue is becoming greater, not less, as time passes. More positively, there is increasing awareness - as reflected in the draft Programme for Government published by the Northern Ireland Executive Committee in October last year - that a more cohesive policy on victims needs to be developed.

To assist this process, the think tank Democratic Dialogue convened in September 2000 a round-table to which all the various shades of opinion among victims groups were invited, along with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies and experts in the field.

This report makes that difficult but often compelling discussion available to a wider audience. And it seeks to distil policy conclusions, both in terms of services tailored to the needs of the individual victim and the social and political responses a wider reconciliation with the past requires. It should be invaluable for policy-makers, service-providers and victims representatives alike.


Contents

Preface  

4

Executive summary  

6

Introduction

BRANDON HAMBER
DORTE KULLE

9

Forgiveness and reconciliation

DUNCAN MORROW

15

Response

BRIAN LENNON

30

Commemoration and remembering

BRANDON HAMBER

34

Response

AVILA KILMURRAY

41

Killings by the state

BILL ROLSTON

45

Response

DAVE WALL

52

'Discovery' and treatment of trauma

MARIE SMYTH

57

Response

KAROLA DILLENBURGER

65

Compensation and reparation

KEN BLOOMFIELD

73

Response

SANDRA PEAKE

79

Future policies for the past

BRANDON HAMBER
DORTE KULLE
ROBIN WILSON

84

Contributors  

100


Preface

This is the 13th report from the think tank Democratic Dialogue. DD gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance for this project from the Belfast European Partnership Board, the Community Relations Council and the Victims' Liaison Unit.

Comments on the publication are very welcome. Anyone wishing to be kept informed of DD projects and events should e-mail the office at the address on the inside cover; mailings are sent out every fortnight.

Further copies of this report are available from DD, price 7.50 (10 institutions, 4.50 unwaged) plus 10 per cent postage and packing. Our current catalogue of reports and papers is available at the back of this publication. More information about DD in general is available on our web site.

The report is based on a round-table discussion, hosted by DD in Belfast on September 26th 2000, which sought to address the concerns of those victimised by the 'troubles'. Specifically, as with most of DD's work, it was concerned with what policies could assist Northern Ireland come to terms with its past and meet the needs of victims and survivors. This report brings together papers and responses presented at the round table and accommodates a variety of opinions.

Earlier research had indicated a need, felt strongly by those directly or indirectly victimised, for their experiences of suffering, grief and hardship to be acknowledged. A desire to have one's needs heard both in the public domain - through political, statutory and non-governmental agencies - and in the private sphere was routinely expressed. Many felt that they did not fall into the established definitions of 'victims' and that there was a lack of communication between agencies dealing with the issue.

The need was also identified for an inclusive policy to help victims and survivors to move forward. DD had not been working with victims issues before the research but had established expertise in policy-making. It is also concerned with social issues, particularly social inclusion. Concerned that the debate on victims was so polarised, DD organised the round table so that a more coherent policy on the issue might begin to be developed.

The draft Programme for Government (Executive Committee, 2000: 20) published in October 2000 promised a range of activities in this area - notably the putting in place by April 2001 of 'a cross-departmental strategy for ensuring that the needs of victims are met'. This report seeks, among other things, to contribute to that strategy and could be drawn upon by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, other policy-makers, assembly members and voluntary organisations.

DD is aware of the potential harm in unreflective policy-making, and therefore sought local and external expertise to - among other things - avoid the trap of only speaking for, but not with, the people affected by any future policies. It hoped that the time was right for an inclusive, informal and confidential debate around some core issues that confront those affected by the 'troubles'. It felt there was a need to address the complexities of these issues and current practice from different perspectives. Thus, the focus of the discussion was not only on future policies, politically speaking, but also on current work with people affected by Northern Ireland's conflict.

DD invited participation from a spectrum of community grassroots organisations, from victims and survivors groups, paramilitary ex-prisoner organisations, the police service, semi-statutory and statutory bodies, politicians, academics working in this field and other concerned individuals. The day was arranged into five sessions, as the following chapters indicate. Each presenter at the round table was followed by a discussant, whose comments are also included.

DD greatly appreciates the contributions of all the participants, who with their personal experience and expertise laid the ground for a very valuable - indeed uplifting - debate on what is a very sensitive issue. Excerpts from their comments are distributed through the report. The views of those represented here are of course the responsibility of the authors alone.

Bibliography

Northern Ireland Executive Committee (2000), Draft Programme for Government, Belfast


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