Ulster Human Rights Watch, which champions the cause of innocent victims of terrorism, has labelled the latest legacy report produced by academics and the Committee on the Administration for Justice as ‘hollow and unbalanced.’
The Lurgan-based human rights charity says the report is a desperate, last-ditch attempt to alter the course of a debate that is already a lost cause.
Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “Much to the disappointment of certain politicians and academics, the Government has rightly accepted the case made for a different approach, than the one proposed in the stalled Stormont House Agreement, to dealing with the past.
“This latest paper is hollow and unbalanced. It overlooks the life sentence that is endured by hundreds of relatives of murdered loved ones and the physical and mental anguish experienced by survivors of terrorist actions.
“This is a last, desperate throw of the dice that doesn’t deserve to be treated seriously. The authors have gone back on their previous position. Having lost the argument, they are now attempting to remain relevant with this latest effort.
“Our position remains unchanged. A new Historical Investigations Unit would be a colossal burden for the taxpayer to bear and deliver negligible results. It would be used to demonise those men and women who served in the police and military, allowing some equivalence between them and the terrorists who claimed so many lives and caused untold destruction.
“In truth, it is a source of sadness and disappointment that this organisation, Ulster Human Rights Watch, and others, along with some politicians locally and nationally, had to conduct a focused campaign to convince the Government that it was on the wrong course. Without significant amendment, the Stormont House Agreement would deliver further anguish and pain for survivors and victims of terrorist actions.
“Hundreds of these long-suffering people would be re-traumatised for the sake of a grubby political agreement to placate and satisfy republican demands. Mixed messages from the Government left survivors and victims feeling bewildered and abandoned. Their anger was justified.
“At this, the eleventh hour, the Government has accepted this case and the advice I would now offer Ministers is to give this latest report short shrift and hold to its current course. That’s what relatives and survivors of terrorism want, and that is what should be delivered.”