Secretary of State Paul Murphy is in South Africa to hear about the country's truth and reconciliation process and assess whether it can be put to use in a Northern Ireland setting. In his second report, the BBC's Conor Macauley reports on the advice offered to move the process of reconciliation forward.
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy has concluded his trip to South Africa having heard diverse views on the relative merits of its truth and reconciliation process.
He said he had come to listen and leading politicians have impressed on him that it is vital for the political process to have taken root before the emotive issue of reconciliation is tackled.
Paul Murphy visited 'museum' of apartheid
The secretary of state concedes that the stalemate in the Northern Ireland process means the timing is not ideal.
But he believes people must begin to debate how best to deal with the past in Northern Ireland and commemorate the 3,000-plus victims of 30 years of violence.
The South African model, where killers and torturers were given amnesty in return for a full account of their crimes and victims, and their families got to tell their stories, was constructed specifically to deal with this country's experience.
Mr Murphy knows there is no question of adopting the truth and reconciliation commission wholesale.
But there are elements of the system here that he admires and which may ultimately be reflected in whatever he decides to implement.
First among these is the notion of story-telling, the idea that by being allowed to recount their experiences, victims' suffering is acknowledged and respected.
On Wednesday, Paul Murphy met Rolf Meyer. Mr Meyer was the main negotiator for the ruling National Party in its talks with the ANC which delivered democracy to South Africa.
A former government minister, Mr Meyer has had a long involvement with the Northern Ireland process and has briefed politicians there on the historic compromises that were agreed.
Mr Meyer told the Mr Murphy that two things had eased his country's journey along the path of reconciliation.
First was the fact that the constitutional question had been resolved and there was consensus about the future governance of the country.
People from black townships testified at truth commission
Second was the strong political leadership given by South African president Nelson Mandela, who came to personify bridge-building between whites and blacks.
The secretary of state cites the cross-community work going on at grass-roots level in Northern Ireland as evidence of the readiness for reconciliation.
He says he will consider all options. Things like a video diary of people's stories; a central monument; a chronicle of the victims of violence along the lines of the Lost Lives book might all be possibilities.
When he returns he will continue to consult on the best way forward.
He won't put a time frame on how long that will take, but says he does not want the talking to go on indefinitely.
That could mean something tangible being done sooner than some people expect.