Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

'No amnesty' for Troubles murders

Troubles
The group was set up to examine the legacy of the Troubles

The group looking at how best to deal with NI's troubled past will not recommend an amnesty for murderers.

Consultative Group on the Past co-chairman Denis Bradley said: "People have said to us, 'why not just draw a line in the sand?'

"But that would mean no more prosecutions and that is the same as introducing a general amnesty.

"Let me state in the clearest terms possible. There will be no amnesty recommended in our report."

The group, co-chaired by Lord Eames, is still working on its final report, which, Mr Bradley said, would be published early next year.

'Real cost'

Speaking at an event organised by victims group Wave and Queen's University Belfast's School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mr Bradley dismissed suggestions that too much money had already been spent on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

"If we base dealing with the past solely on how much it will cost in financial terms then we will be making a huge error of judgement," he said.

"The real costs to our society and for future generations could be far more damaging than a purely financial burden. This is not a time for short-term strategy, we have to look to the long term."

Mr Bradley said it was unfair to place the burden of dealing with the past on victims alone, and called on all sections of society to look at how they could help.

"Only with a collective response can we hope to build a shared and reconciled future in which we do not create a new generation of victims," he said.

Key recommendations

Details emerged earlier this year about some of the report's key recommendations.

It is expected to call for the establishment of an independent commission for a five-year period to take over the role of re-examining all killings during the Troubles, something currently carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team.

The commission would also investigate controversial killings where there are allegations of collusion with the security forces - a role currently undertaken by the Police Ombudsman.

In cases where there is no possibility of a prosecution, the commission would ask the families of victims if they want to know details about what happened.

If the families agree, the commission would then call on those responsible - whether it was paramilitary organisations, the police or army - to come forward and provide details.

There would not be a general amnesty - but those who agree to meet the commission would be given immunity for the information they provide, meaning it could not be used for prosecutions.

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