In response to Desmond Rea

Press release: February 18th 2004

in response to comments by Policing Board Chairperson Prof. Desmond Rea
on dealing with our past Relatives for Justice Director Mark Thompson

‘We welcome Mr. Rea’s comments on the
general debate around the need to collectively and comprehensively deal
with our past that has been on-going now for sometime.

‘However, to say that after ‘paramilitaries’ come to the table that
possibly the ‘British government might too’ get involved at ‘a later
stage’ shows either grave naiveté or that the intervention is motivated
for political purposes.

‘Either way these initial thoughts are ill-conceived focusing almost
exclusively on the role of all the actors to the conflict with the
exception of the British Government. Such a process is doomed to
failure and many relatives affected by the actions of the state will
begin to question the motives behind the comments feeling that they
were prompted with the spotlight currently on the role of the state.

‘The value, and indeed need, of truth recovery has long been
demonstrated and is a core element of any conflict resolution process.
Truth underlines the imperative for positive and collective change,
supports human rights protections, and importantly contributes to
individual recovery and healing that extends to community and societal
journey’s of recovery and healing too.

‘If a process were to emerge then obviously its acceptability,
including the measure of any success, would undoubtedly be down to all
actors to the conflict engaging on an equal basis dictated by any
agreed terms of reference. This includes the British government too.

‘Having stated this there needs to exist a conducive political
atmosphere in which there also exists an environment of political
generosity and currently this does not exist. However, it is equally
important that communities and stakeholders take ownership and begin
the process of debate even in the absence of political stability and

‘A primary focus in first achieving any steps towards addressing the
past must begin with a bottom up approach whereby those most affected
by the conflict directly contribute to and shape any evolving future

‘It is in this context that Relatives for Justice are involved in a
partnership initiative entitled Eolas which produced a consultation
document on seeking ways and mechanisms aimed at dealing with our


The Eolas document can be downloaded as a pdf file by clicking here and copies can be obtained by contacting our office.