South Down MP Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) has highlighted the serious work that is required to ensure that structures dealing with the past are credible and seen to be credible.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on compensation for the victims of IRA violence perpetrated using weapons supplied by Libya, Ms Ritchie reiterated the SDLP’s full support for all victims of paramilitary and state violence.
She said: “The many thousands of people who were subject to violence and human rights abuses during the Troubles are entitled to compensation, to truth and to justice. That is true for the victims of the IRA and Libyan weapons, victims of British government agents and for victims of the UDA, UVF and other paramilitary groups.
“Every single murder during the Troubles was wrong and the SDLP supports these victims’ attempts to secure compensation, including those who suffered violence by the IRA using Libyan weapons and believe that these claims should be worked through by the Libyan and British governments.
“It has already been established that Libya supplied arms and explosives to the IRA and, critically, Libya has already conceded the principle of compensation by previously making payments to citizens of the United States.
“The victims are fighting not only for financial compensation but also for truth and accountability and for recognition of the suffering caused. Shamefully, the structures that we need for Northern Ireland to deal fully and transparently with its legacy have still not been established.
“I made it clear to the Minister in today’s debate that the structures for dealing with the past in Northern Ireland have been downgraded since Eames/Bradley and again since the Stormont House Talks.
“Serious work is still required on the Oral History Archive, on the Historical Inquiries Unit, on the Independent Commission on the Information Retrieval and on the Implementation and Reconciliation Group. Full transparency must be at the heart of the legacy structures.
“This is our last chance to deal with legacy in Northern Ireland fully and properly. It must be credible and it must be seen to be credible. Only full transparency from the Government will achieve this. The SDLP will continue to work with victims and survivors and hold the Government to account on this.”