PRIMO INCONTRO DEL ‘VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS FORUM’
Si è riunito a Belfast per la prima volta, il forum delle vittime e dei sopravvissuti del conflitto in Irlanda del Nord
“Come organizzazione con un’unica autorità morale che informa la coscienza civica di una società ancora in lotta per far fronte con l’eredità del passato e con le nuove espressioni di divisione, spero troverete la vostra esperienza di adesione forum come un periodo di servizio pubblico per i quali vi sentirete orgogliosi “.
Con queste parole Brendan McAllister, commissario nonchè vice-presidente del Victims and Survivors Forum, ha dato inizio al primo incontro ufficiale.
Tra i membri del forum anche Michael Culbert, ex prigioniero dell’IRA condannato a 16 anni di reclusione per l’omicidio di un agente di polizia, la cui partecipazione ha suscitato malumori all’interno della fazione unionista.
Aspetto nuovo e forse per certi versi distabilizzante per alcuni membri, è il trovarsi nella stessa stanza insieme a persone con cui non avrebbero mai immaginato e voluto avere a fianco. Ne da testimonianza Raymond McCord, il cui figlio fu assassinato dai paramilitari lealisti, affermando di ‘non essere felice’ dis edere nello stesso locale insieme a killer condannati, “ma devo accettarlo se voglio contribuire a qualcosa”.
First meeting of victims forum in Belfast (The Irish Times)
The Victims and Survivors Forum has met formally for the first time in Belfast. Comprising those who have suffered directly as a result of the conflict, the forum will help the four victims commissioners in addressing the legacy of the Troubles and tackling new expressions of division.
Victims commissioner and forum co-chairman Brendan McAllister opened the forum’s first formal session and acknowledged that each of the 28 members came to the discussion “conscious of those you have lost and of those who have suffered around you among your family, friends and neighbours”.
Mr McAllister added he hoped the forum would evolve “as a body with a unique moral authority which informs the civic conscience of a society still struggling to deal with the legacy of the past and with new expressions of division I hope that you will find your experience of forum membership to be a period of public service about which you will feel proud”.
There has been some unionist opposition to the inclusion on the forum of former IRA prisoner Michael Culbert who was sentenced to 16 years for killing a police officer.
Alan McBride, who lost his wife and father-in-law in the Shankill bombing of 1993, said it was time to address people’s needs after the conflict regardless of their circumstances. “I have some sympathy for folk who are on this [forum] for the first time and are perhaps sitting down for the first time in a room with people they wouldn’t normally sit down with. That’s going to take time for those relationships to form, for them to gain some understanding of who else is in the room.” Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, admitted he was “not happy” about convicted killers sitting in the same room. “But I have to accept it if I want to contribute something,” he said.
Catherine McCartney, whose brother was attacked and killed in Belfast in 2005, said she was attending to help find “truth and justice” for her brother and for others bereaved by violence.