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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 19:29 GMT
Troubles 'war statement' mooted
burning car
The group is discussing how to deal with the legacy of the Tropubles
The group set up to look at how best to deal with the legacy of the Troubles may ask the government to formally say it fought a war against the IRA.

The Consultative Group on the Past held the first of seven public meetings in Belfast on Monday evening.

The group, co-chaired by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, is due to publish a report this summer.

Sources have said it may ask the government to say the period known as the Troubles was in fact a war.

This would be seen as highly controversial.

Throughout the Troubles successive governments and the security forces said they were dealing with criminal activity and a breakdown of law and order in Northern Ireland.

Republican and loyalist paramilitaries claimed they were fighting a war.

If the government was to say it was a war, it could enable it to grant a form of amnesty to former paramilitaries willing to provide details of their activities as part of a truth recovery process.

The report could also recommend that all groups involved in the violence should apologise for their role and consider signing an agreement that they will never again use violence for political ends.

Meetings

The group's first public meeting will be followed by others in Londonderry, Bangor, Ballymena, Enniskillen, Armagh and Omagh over the coming weeks.

Mr Bradley said the meetings were an important part of the consultation process.

"Since beginning our consultation in September we have met with a range of groups and individuals to listen to their views on how we can deal with our troubled past," he said.

"We have also learned of the good work that has already taken place on this issue and we are determined to build upon that."

The independent group was set up by former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.

Its aim is to provide a platform for people to express their opinions on how to deal with the trauma caused by the Troubles.



SEE ALSO
Group to deal with troubled past
22 Jun 07 |  Northern Ireland
Reflections of a troubled NI past
21 Jun 07 |  Northern Ireland
Troubles legacy 'needs addressed'
10 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland

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