Northern Ireland: Troubles victims must not be held hostage to flags and parades

Amnesty International has called on Northern Ireland's political parties to decouple 'dealing with the past' from ongoing disputes about flags and parades, following failure to agree on all three strands of the inter-party talks chaired by Dr Richard Haass.
On the eve of the largest gathering of victims since the end of the inter-party Haass Talks, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International Programme Director for Northern Ireland, said:
"Victims must not be held hostage to political failure to agree on issues such as flags and parades.
"Given the all-or-nothing approach that has been adopted to the three issues discussed in the recent talks chaired by Dr Richard Haass, if flags and parades cannot be agreed upon, then neither can issues relating to ‘the past’. Victims of the Troubles find themselves trapped in a stalemate, caused by a perennial political failure to agree on symbols and marching.
"Flags, parades and the past were uncomfortably lumped together in the Haass process – united only by the inability hitherto for politicians to agree solutions to any of them. Post-Haass, we need to decouple the strands to move things forward.
"With elections on the horizon, politicians have the chance now to show that politics can finally work for those who suffered so much when politics failed.
"As it stands, so long as the mantra ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ continues to be recited, progress in dealing with Northern Ireland’s troubled past will be delayed indefinitely."
A major conference on Dealing with the Past, organised by the Commission for Victims and Survivors, will take place on Tuesday 25 February 2014 at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast.  

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