The Stephen Livingstone lecture: dealing with the past  

Continuing the review (link to the complete series) of Martin O'Brien's speech on 'Human rights and the Agreement: how far have we come?', the 2009 Stephen Livingstone memorial lecture.

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This blog has repeatedly visited the thorny subject of how Northern Ireland should deal with its bloody past. O'Brien tackles the issue too and calls for an end to political posturing and the establishment of a victim-centred process:

"In the McGrory lecture I commented that some mechanism will have to be developed to deal with the past if its horrors are not to undermine our future.

I reiterate what I said then: that there needs to be a wide ownership of the project, and one in which the needs of victims are placed centre-stage.   

Since then we have seen the publication of the report from the Consultative Group on the Past.  

I don’t have time to comment in detail on its proposals, but unfortunately there does not appear to be widespread ownership or consensus around its recommendations.  

The entire experience and the political posturing around it has no doubt re-traumatised many victims and probably left them dubious about engaging any further.

But, we simply cannot abandon the debate.  

If we do not accept what the Group has proposed, then what will we accept?"

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