Friday, October 12, 2018
Response on Reconciliation to Consultation on Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past
The government launched a consultation on "Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past" earlier in 2018 with a closing date of October 2018. As part of the responses to the consultation myself and Grainne Kelly made a submission on Reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a stated principle and aim of the Consultation Paper: Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past (May 2018). Reconciliation is noted in the consultation document under principles, that is “the principle that reconciliation should be promoted”. Later in the document reference is made to the Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) with its stated aim “to promote reconciliation and anti-sectarianism and to review and assess the implementation of the other legacy institutions proposed in the Stormont House Agreement”.
Drawing on our body of research work on reconciliation undertaken over a 14 year period the main points we make, expanded in our submission, is that although reconciliation is a stated aim and principle of the process (and the Secretary of State also affirms this in the Foreword) there is, firstly, no attempt to define what is meant by reconciliation. Secondly, the document does not outline how reconciliation might be supported and promoted. We understand that implementation might be the task of IRG members, but our research findings suggest that this might be very difficult for a number of reasons. We argue that the current proposed structure of the IRG, and the appointment process in particular, will compound the challenge of reconciliation. At the same time, we believe that the work we have done in defining reconciliation could be beneficial to the process.