Past injustices are being inherited by next generation, victims’ group warns
The injustices of the past are being inherited by the next generation in Northern Ireland, the country’s largest victims’ group warned.
Youngsters are seeking answers about what happened to their grandfathers and doing nothing is not an option, the Wave Trauma Centre said.
They have little comprehension of the mayhem of the 30 years of violence during which thousands were killed or suffered life-changing injuries, chief executive Sandra Peake added.
She said: “We need to grasp this issue and address it.”
Wave’s submission to the Government’s legacy consultation said those operating the institutions should be properly trained in dealing with trauma.
It highlighted the exclusion of victims from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain from the remit of criminal reinvestigations.
Ms Peake’s organisation sees examples of the tragedies and grievances of the past being passed on to the next generation – those born after the conflict was largely ended in 1998 or who are too young to remember it.
She added: “People will say there are a lot of things to consider, potentially it is better to do nothing.
“But in doing nothing all you are doing is passing the trauma to the next generation.
“Day and daily we deal with grandchildren who want to know what happened to their grandfather and they are asking those questions devoid of an awareness of what it was like at that time.
“If you talk to older people, they knew the mayhem that came with the Troubles, they knew what it was like at that time and how difficult it was but younger people are not looking at it through that lens and, sadly, you can see the injustice of the past and wanting answers being passed to the next generation.”
She said the time for implementation was now.
“We have these institutions proposed and we need to get them right and we need to move forward because it is not an option to do nothing.”
Exclusion of some issues surrounding the injured is a major issue for Wave, including a much-debated pension for injured people having stalled.
Unionists insist paramilitaries who injured themselves in botched terror attacks should not qualify while Sinn Fein argues there should be no hierarchy of victims.
Ms Peake said there was nothing proposed for those injured, bar an oral history archive.
“We feel that is unacceptable.”
She raised the “grossly unfair” limited remit of the criminal reinvestigation Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).
“It must have a broader remit than simply Northern Ireland and those cases must be addressed in other areas rather than people being further excluded and marginalised.”
She expressed concern about whether the HIU and Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR) could run concurrently, with families divided over which they want to use.
Meanwhile, another victims’ group, Relatives for Justice, urged a full independent and international public inquiry into the loyalist murder of lawyer Pat Finucane and a cross-border inquiry into the republican 1998 Omagh bombing.
It said soldiers should not be protected from prosecution and plans for legacy inquests should be properly funded.