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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
Officers reject truth forum
Chief Constable Huge Orde
Hugh Orde: Suggested truth forum
Rank and file members of Northern Ireland's police will oppose any call for a truth and reconciliation commission, the Police Federation has said.

The comments of federation chairman Irwin Montgomery came in the wake of a suggestion by Chief Constable Hugh Orde that a type of truth and reconciliation process may be needed to bring closure to the past.

Mr Montgomery said the federation's members were "infuriated" at the suggestion of such a commission.

He said: "The only people who would benefit from this would be the terrorists and paramilitaries, who would use the forum to justify their crimes."

Mr Montgomery said his members wanted closure for the families, but stressed there had to be justice.

"We can only achieve that if the unsolved murders of police officers and indeed the other 1,800 civilian unsolved murders, are properly investigated and the responsible people identified," he said.

'Not for everyone'

Speaking two weeks ago, Hugh Orde said: "There needs to be something that gives everyone an opportunity to say their piece, to get the best explanation they can on what happened to their families, their loved ones, so that they can then get on with their lives."

However, he said it would not be satisfactory for everyone.

"I've met families that want a wide spectrum of outcomes, be it revenge - or at the other end - simple understanding, with no blame attached," he said.

"It's a debate which is partly academic, it's partly practical but it does need to happen."

A truth and reconciliation forum was set up in South Africa after the end of apartheid. It granted amnesty to many of those whose testimonies it heard.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said a commission was one of a number of possibilities the government was prepared to consider in order to draw a line under Northern Ireland's troubled past.

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