RE: Sinn Féin submission to British and Irish Governments on Truth Recovery.
2nd October 2009.
Sinn Féin’s submission to the British and Irish Governments in respect of truth recovery.
Sinn Féin believes that:
* An Independent, International Truth Commission is required.
* An effective truth recovery process is dependent on full cooperation by all relevant parties.
* The body charged with this onerous task;
- should have a remit to inquire into the extent and patterns of past violations as well as their causes and consequences
- should examine and report on institutional and collective responsibility, and
- must be independent of the state, combatant groups, political parties, civil society and economic interests.
* Accordingly, in the above context, the two Governments should authorise a reputable body, such as the United Nations, to devise and implement all measures and processes necessary to achieve
- The independence of the Commission
- Effective Independent Truth Recovery methods, and
- The public reporting of its findings, conclusions and recommendations.
This should be underpinned in legislation.
In our view this is the best way to take this forward.
We reject all attempts to create and sustain a hierarchy of victims.
All processes should be victim centered and should deal with all victims of the conflict on the basis of equality.
There are vested interests who do not want the truth and who will oppose the creation of a meaningful truth recovery process and who will use specious ‘political legitimacy’ issues to that end. The disgraceful British and Unionist wrangle over the ‘definition of a victim’ and the ‘Recognition payment’ are cases in point.
But truth recovery cannot and will not be dealt with through a British or Unionist prism or, for that matter, through an Irish Republican prism.
The British Government which has historically played such a divisive and violent role in Irish affairs must join in an honest endeavour which allows the people of our island to carve out a new future.
The British Government has pursued as a matter of policy the use of administrative and institutional violence and collusion.
It has employed the full weight of its political influence and authority to actively deny, cover-up and block truth recovery processes.
This has involved the suppression of reports by various commissions from Stalker, to Sampson, to Stevens, and has also refused to fulfil its commitments, for example on the Pat Finucane murder case or its refusal to co-operate with the Barron commission.
If there is to be an inclusive healing process and a genuine process of reconciliation then the British Government must face up to its responsibilities.
The Irish Government has a constitutional, legal and moral responsibility to actively promote and encourage this course of action.
All of us have to pledge ourselves to tell and hear the truth about the past.
Building a united, harmonious society demands that all the difficult issues are dealt with in an equal and inclusive way and as a necessary part of putting the past behind us.
Looking after victims families and survivors is a significant and important part of this.
Is mise le meas,
Gerry Adams MP MLA
Sinn Féin President
Undoubtedly, there are those who will accuse me of Sinn Fein bashing or, at the very least, question my audacity when I raise the following questions once more. If there is to be no hierarchy of victims, will this Independent Truth Recovery Commission be charged with the responsibility of launching a full scale investigation into the heinous murders of Robert McCartney, Paul Quinn, and the 1981 Hunger Strikers? In each of these cases there is reason to believe that there were mitigating circumstances which, if they are uncovered and thoroughly investigated, could have a very significant bearing on the outcome of the cases. A full scale investigation by an Independent Truth Commission such as the one proposed by Sinn Fein could remove all doubt and provide closure to the families of the victims. All of these families deserve nothing less!