The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Ireland and Britain

The TRCIB was created in 2006 to create a forum for the reconciliation through examination of historic wrongs that people within Britain and Ireland feel were committed during the period of history in Ireland known as the ‘time of Troubles’.
By: Int. Inst. of Peace Studies & Global Philosophy
 
 
International Institute of Peace Studies & Global Philosophy
International Institute of Peace Studies & Global Philosophy
 
June 24, 2010 - PRLog -- The release of the Saville Report after a 38-year struggle by truth and justice campaigners for those killed in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday has exonerated the victims and concluded that the shootings were “unjustified”.   There are recommendations within the report that those responsible will be brought to justice, yet for some relatives of the victims, the significance of the Saville Inquiry is to make this truth public.

With more than 3,000 deaths in Northern Ireland's Troubles, many people still have painful memories and deep resentment about the unsolved murders and lack of closure.  The idea of a Legacy Commission (similar to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission) was recommended last year by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley.  Following publication of the Saville Report, Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward insists a comprehensive process to look at all the unresolved killings during the Troubles is necessary and this has also been echoed by deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness.

Such a process has already begun with the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Ireland and Britain in 2006 by the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy.  The purpose of the Commission is to create a forum for the reconciliation through examination of historic wrongs that different communities within Britain and Ireland feel were committed during the period of history in Ireland known as the ‘time of Troubles’, particularly concerning the split between Catholics and Protestants and their paramilitary wings.  It examines testimony concerning all aspects of the conflict in Ireland, and allows persons who have perpetrated acts of cruelty and injustice to come forward and apologise to those whom they have wronged, whether in Britain or in Ireland, and also to empower those working for peace and reconciliation to come forward and tell their own stories.

In the aftermath of the Saville inquiry there has been much discussion about the possibility of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Northern Ireland.  Sinn Fein have stated, as reported in The Times, June 17, 2010 :

"Republicans and Sinn Fein have made it clear that they are willing to take part in any truly independent truth commission...."

The good news is that such an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Ireland and Britain does exist. It was set up as an independent academic and grass roots initative and met in Anglesey in 2006, Dublin in 2007, and in Belfast in 2009 where attendees included representatives from the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Coiste na n-Iarchimí (umbrella organisation for Republican (former IRA) ex-prisoners), officers from local government, the Irish Times and the British Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat and Protestant clergy.  The proceedings were filmed, and tape recorded and independent reports were assembled from gathered testimony.

In all the discussions in the press in the wake of the Saville Inquiry about the possibility of setting up a TRC for Ireland, the fact that one already HAS been set up and is running, independently of all government influence or assistance, needs to become more widespread common knowledge.

Protestant and Unionist voices have also reacted to the Saville Inquiry by challenging the idea that justice can be partial, and rightly pointing out that hundreds of Unionists were killed during the time of troubles, without mercy, by armed gunmen, for whose deaths there has also been no legal or emotional redress. They ask for a series of Saville type inquiries for their dead also. Such a situation would be impossible financially – but we can all come together and continue to develop the work of the existing Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Ireland and Britain.

The purpose of the Commission is to create a forum for actual reconciliation, in so far as possible,  through examination of historic wrongs that different communities within Britain and Ireland feel were committed during the period of history in Ireland known as the ‘time of Troubles’.  

The TRCIB includes Britain as well as Ireland because we are concerned about a long term analysis and solution of the Northern Irish conflict in its widest framework - and this involves policy framed in Britain as much as in Ireland.  We are concerned to review and examine evidence on all sides in the historic disputes involving Northern Ireland, and between republican and unionist traditions.  We believe this affects all of the peoples of both islands and are concerned about the cultural and religious dimensions of this conflict - for example, the historic split between Catholic and Protestant and the role of other minority religious traditions in both Britain and Ireland.

Another concern is about the educational implications of this conflict, eg. why is so little taught about the history of Ireland in British schools ?  Why can one not study Gaelic language and literature (one of the most ancient of all European bronze age literary survivals apart from Greek) in British schools - so that the average British educated squaddy on the streets on Bloody Sunday had literally no understanding of the culture of the people he was facing ? How can educational experts, teachers and scholars from both islands come together and frame new ways of envisioning the past, and the teaching of morality and religion, that no longer demonises “otherness” but celebrates it ? This aspect of the work of the TRCIB is about looking forward, as much as looking back, about peace creation. We also are concerned about the positive role that journalism, the media and the arts can play in fostering dialogue and reconciliation rather than maintaining and justifying stereotypes.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Britain and Ireland is willing to cooperate with any official governmental Truth process established, but will also be continuing its own work independent of all governments and is willing to work with all individuals and actors who were involved in the events of Bloody Sunday, who wish to come forward and apologise or make other reparations.  We do not seek legal redress but rather personal, spiritual and  psychological remorse, on all sides.  We are strictly neutral and do not favour one side over the other, but rather favour truth, completion and healing. We seek to compile a record of historic interviews, taped and filmed if possible, in which we invite those involved at whatever level in the time of troubles, as actors and players or victims, to come forward and place their views on testimony. This can also be achieved anonymously and indirectly.

We anticipate that the next meeting of the TRC for Ireland and Britain will be taking place in Derry / Londonderry in late Summer 2010.

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CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PRESS:
If you would like further information on the TRCIB for editorial purposes, an invitation to the next meeting of the TRCIB. or to schedule an interview with the Chair of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Ireland and Britain, Dr. Thomas Daffern, (Director of the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy), please contact :
Ms Nicola Hague,
IIPSGP Media Department,
tel:  01323 469321 / 07867 986712
email:  nicola.iipsgp@gmail.com

Further information on IIPSGP is available at www.educationaid.net

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The International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy is an independent academic body specialising in the philosophical and religious aspects of conflict resolution.
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