Negative reaction to Eames-Bradley proposals

 

THE KEY proposals of the Eames-Bradley group on how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles have provoked a mainly negative or divided reaction, according to the results of a consultation process.

Hopes of developing a speedy official strategy appeared to be dashed such was the absence of a cohesive public response to the proposals from the Consultative Group on the Past.

The group, which was chaired by former Church of Ireland primate Lord Eames and former vice-chairman of the Policing Board Denis Bradley, reported in January last year, making 31 recommendations on how to address the past.

The group’s most controversial proposal was for a £12,000 payment to the relatives of the 3,700 people killed during the Troubles – which would have cost some £40 million in total – even if the fatalities were involved in paramilitary shootings and bombings.

That was already formally rejected by the British government after vocal opposition from many victims’ groups and some political parties.

Key proposals from the Eames-Bradley group also included the creation of an independent Legacy Commission costing £160 million to deal with issues such as reconciliation, justice and information recovery, and the formation of Reconciliation Forum.

Eames-Bradley also proposes the creation of a £100 million fund for “bursaries” which would be used for major strategic projects such as tackling sectarianism and devising a plan to bring down the so-called peace walls.

There were 246 responses to the consultation process carried out by the Northern Ireland Office. Of these 72 were from victims’ organisations, political parties, churches and other groups while there were 174 individual submissions.

Most organisations rejected the £12,000 payment, with eight supporting it. A total of 169 of the 174 individual submissions also rejected the payment. “The most common reason given by respondents for opposing the recommendation was the potential for recognition payments to be awarded to the relatives of paramilitaries killed during the Troubles,” the process reported.

There were mixed views on the central proposal of a legacy commission. Of the organisations that responded to the consultation and gave a clear view on this recommendation, 22 supported the proposal while 15 opposed it. A total of 165 of the 174 who responded were against the proposal.

There was a similar division in the response to the proposed reconciliation forum. Fifteen organisations supported the proposal while 14 opposed it with 167 individuals rejecting the proposal.