Dealing with the past Forum – Eames-Bradley revisited

AN Open Forum on the Report of the Consultative Group on the Past, chaired by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, is to take place in Ballycastle at the end of March.

Organised by Ballycastle Church Action, the organisation set up jointly by the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches to promote community service and community relations, in conjunction with Corrymeela, this significant event is being supported by Moyle District Council’s Good Relations Programme.

Controversy surrounded the publication of the Consultative Group’s Report largely because of their recommendation that a sum of 12,000 be given to the families of all who had died as a result of and during the years of the Troubles.

“Their thirty other proposals were largely overlooked in the torrent of critical reaction, which exposed the deep hurt still felt by many people, despite undoubted progress, on the political front” says Dr Gordon Gray, one of the planning group.

“It’s of vital importance that the lingering legacy of pain, misunderstanding and fear continue to be addressed if we are to build a new community of harmony and hope.

As the Foreword of the Report states: “Only by honestly addressing the past can we truly deal with it and the leave it in the past”

The forthcoming Forum will focus on the other proposals, presented as a ‘road map’ to a reconciled future. “One of the main proposals” Ronnie Millar, Centre Director of Corrymeela points out, “is that there should be a Legacy Commission and a Reconciliation Forum. They underline the need for programmes to address practical issues, such as youth and education, poverty and sectarianism, alleged collusion and that sense of marginalisation which lies behind para-militarism”. While affirming that the legal investigation of unresolved incidents should continue, the Eames-Bradley Group’ soundings underlined that the essential need of many victims is to ‘tell their story’ and to discover the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and why.

Joy Wisener, of Moyle District Council, noting that the Consultative Group’s Report states “The Consultative Group on the Past was established to find a way forward out of the shadows of the past” added, “As Moyle’s Good Relations Officer I am delighted that the local churches are taking this step together. This Forum will provide citizens of this area with an opportunity to reflect on this significant Report and consider how its proposals can best be implemented in this area”

The Forum will be introduced by Derrick Wilson, Assistant Director UJ UNESCO. It will take place in The Croi, at Corrymeela, on Tuesday 31st March at 7.30 p.m. Everyone interested, whether church members or not, will be welcome to participate. It will be genuinely open to the entire community.

This project has received financial support from the Community Relations Unit, OFMDFM.