Advert to send ‘stark message’ about failed pledges over legacy

Posted By: November 21, 2016

Allison Morris.Irish News (Belfast).Monday, November 21, 2016

VICTIMS of the Troubles who feel let down by the failure to implement legacy proposals in the Fresh Start agreement are being urged to send a message to the British government through a stark advert carried in today’s Irish News.

The highly unusual advert, which contains two blank pages, was taken out by the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) coincide with the first anniversary of the Fresh Start agreement.

Paul O’Connor from the PFC said the aim was to the highlight government inaction in implementing plans for a Historical Investigations Unit to deal with legacy investigations.

He said they were urging victims to use the space to write the names of their loved ones and describe they feel about the stalled truth recovery process before posting their personal messages on social media.

The advert includes the following words in the top left-hand corner: “Since the Fresh Start Agreement of November 2015 the British government has delivered the following for the thousands of victims and survivors of the Conflict… ”

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said the government will not advance legacy proposals without “broad political consensus” suggesting that a public consultation may now be held.

He also rejected any accusations that they are “hiding behind national security issues”.

Speaking on the anniversary of the Fresh Start he said: “I’ve said very clearly this is not about trying to hide embarrassment or anything of that nature”.

However, Paul O’Connor said the political consensus issue was seen by victims as yet another stalling mechanism.

“There was no consensus on policing or prisoner releases, there was no consensus from DUP on the Good Friday Agreement, but what there is a consensus on is that families want to see a properly financed, independent investigations unit to take up where the flawed HET [Historical Enquiries Unit] left off,” he said.

“The sense of anger, frustration, and despair among victims is palatable, they feel abandoned and like they simply don’t count.

“The white space is intended to convey the lack of political progress and we ask all victims, regardless of who their relative was or who was responsible for their death, to use it to express their own feelings and frustrations and post that on social media.

“There is no need for us to fill in the blank space but we would really like to see people who are hurting and still waiting on answers to fill that space in.”

“We’ve come so far and this can be done, it is not rocket science, we’re very close to finishing line.

“The behavior of the British government on this issue has been abysmal. It must be noted if we don’t deal with this issue now then we are going to sow the seeds of division for years to come, you cannot leave an open sore in a genuine peace process.”