Saturday 24th January: spoke at symposium in the Waterfront after a matinee performance of Martin Lynch’s new play, ‘The Chronicles of Long Kesh’. Sunday 25th January: interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence.
The subject of the discussion in the Waterfront was Experiences in Political Conflict. It was chaired by Noel Thompson from the BBC. On the panel was Rona Fields from Washington DC (an internationally renowned psychologist specialising in political violence); Brian Erskine (a former prison officer); myself; Billy Hutchinson (former UVF lifer) and William McQuiston (former UDA prisoner who also was on the blanket protest for a time).
Part of this discussion was filmed and is available through Slugger O’Toole: http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/experience-in-political-conflict/
Few of the participants gave ground from their political stances but a constant theme from the loyalists on the panel and from the floor is the frustration loyalists feel for the way they are depicted in drama, literature and film as “going around like Neanderthals trailing their knuckles on the ground”, to quote Billy Hutchinson (who was very critical of the play). I referred to the David McKittrick article on that very subject which is posted on the Bobby Sands Trust website: http://www.bobbysandstrust.com/archives/742
At the end, Noel Thompson referred to the leaked proposals from the Eames-Bradley Consultative Group on the Past, among which is a controversial proposal to pay each family of all those killed £12,000. Noel asked for a straw poll and only one person in an audience of around 120 thought it a good idea.
That proposal – and others leaked in advance of the Commission’s official publication of its report next Wednesday – was debated on Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence, chaired by William Crawley, which I participated in. The discussion begins at just over 33 minutes into the programme which can be heard here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00h3j0d/Sunday_Sequence_25_01_2009/
The other panellists were Derek Wilson (one of the founders of Corrymeela), Mike Nesbitt (one of the four Victims Commissioners), Methodist Minister the Reverend David Clements (whose father, a Methodist lay preacher and RUC officer, was killed by the IRA in 1985) and myself.
Apparently the main proposals from the Lord Eames- Denis Bradley Consultative Group on the Past are:
– £12,000 payment to families of all those killed in the Troubles, regardless of circumstances: expected to say there should be no hierarchy of victims and that everyone should be treated in the same way.
– £300 million overall to deal with the past.
– Legacy Commission chaired by international commissioner and two other members to oversee how legacy of the Troubles is comprehensively addressed.
– Information recovery unit which will privately collate and report on information from paramilitaries and British security forces to help establish how and why victims were killed in conflict.
– New investigative body to replace Historical Enquiries Team to investigate some 3,000 killings of the Troubles.
– £100 million for projects to tackle sectarianism.
– An end to future public inquiries into controversial killings.