A truth recovery process should be established to deal with ongoing issues concerning Northern Ireland’s past, a prominent Northern priest has said.
“The British government and the Dublin government have a
responsibility to pursue the agreement they made and set up a truth
recovery process as far as that is humanly possible at this late stage,”
Fr Joe McVeigh told The Irish Catholic.
Arguing that this
might help some families, he conceded that “there would be some families
who would not be satisfied with that – there are some families who want
justice, who want people put in prison”.
The Clogher priest’s comments came after the Police Service of
Northern Ireland confirmed that the team investigating the events of
Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 had forwarded a report to the Public
Prosecution Service for its consideration.
“I believe they should follow the South African model and find
somebody like Archbishop Tutu to spearhead the thing and invite all the
people involved to come forward with their stories, with their evidence
being free from prosecution,” Fr McVeigh added.
Another campaigning priest, retired Fr Desmond Wilson, told this
newspaper that truth remains the priority for relatives of victims of
British military violence.
“What the families are looking for in the
first place is not prosecutions but the truth,” he said, continuing,
“they want to know the truth. You’ll always have a difference of opinion
about whether prosecutions should follow once you know the truth, but
Noting how families of those killed in Derry, Ballymurphy, Spring
Hill and elsewhere have struggled for years to discover the truth, Fr
Wilson criticised “the failure of the public authorities to facilitate
them, even though promises were made”, citing how documents are often
produced belatedly, if at all, and often heavily redacted.
Fr Wilson also took issue with efforts in England to prevent soldiers
from being prosecuted.
“It’s a very strong and I think very offensive
campaign,” he said, describing as “most unhelpful” Northern Secretary’s
James Brokenshire’s claim that current investigative efforts are
excessively focused on State violence.