Sir, – Liam Kennedy is absolutely right in his contention that disavowal of past violence is the key to laying moral foundations for a united Ireland ("Sinn Féin is biggest obstacle to Irish unity", Opinion & Analysis, July 19th).
Reconciliation is at the heart of such an approach and, as Prof Kennedy acknowledges, much work along these lines has been done by President Michael D Higgins in his advocacy of “ethical remembering”. This has been very successful at a national level, but there also needs to be a more structured approach to reconciliation for those most affected by the Troubles who seek it at a personal level. The Truth Recovery Process advocates that, where former combatants on all sides are willing to come forward and provide families with information, and where families wish to avail of such an offer, it should be possible for them to do so through a mediation process agreed by the British and Irish governments, and all of the parties to the Stormont House Agreement. If families wish to pursue truth and justice through the courts that should remain their prerogative, but there is an urgent need for a working alternative. While occasional breakthroughs in legacy investigations are sometimes highlighted in the media, this happens because they are so rare. Engagement between former perpetrators and victims may be difficult, but done properly it has the potential to yield more positive results than the legal arena, where the outcome of prosecutions are unpredictable and the longest sentence is two years, a fraction of the time spent investigating and prosecuting them.
Alternative routes to addressing the legacy of the conflict are urgently needed.– Yours, etc,
A chara, – The overwhelming opposition of all political groups and victims groups on this island to the British government’s determination to renege on yet another agreement it previously entered into (the 2014 Stormont House Agreement) allows a firm conclusion to be drawn. The imperative is to obstruct any possibility that the murder by British soldiers of innocent, unarmed civilians will be prosecuted. In effect the British government is saying that serving members of its armed forces can murder with impunity. Rules of engagement need not apply. If this is acceptable to them in 1970s Northern Ireland, it will be acceptable to them at any time anywhere in the world where British forces are deployed. This is indeed immoral, dangerous folly and must be challenged using the highest political, diplomatic and legal means. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – So, the mother of parliaments will simply put aside the laws against violence and murder as and when it is convenient? – Yours, etc,
Caragh, Co Kildare.