Patrick Kielty knows a thing or two about the devastating effects of The Troubles.
His father was killed by paramilitary gunmen in 1988; he’s told jokes about both sides. In 2018, Patrick made the programme My Dad, The Peace Deal and Me, for the BBC (available on YouTube, watching recommended), which looked at how the Good Friday Agreement was holding up 20 years on.
Born of the same treaty, to address the need for reconciliation and meeting the needs of victims of violence, The Commission for Victims and Survivors was founded in 2008. As an “arm’s-length” government organisation, it retains some independence from government, but is its direct link for promoting the needs of everyone impacted by The Troubles.
Serving as an inclusive organisation that listens to the varying needs and experiences of victims, the Commission advises government on the best way forward with policy, law and practice affecting them. At the heart of this work is the voice of the Victims and Survivors Forum, a group of individuals -convened by the Commission- who represent the breadth of differing experiences. The Forum works together to find common ground for the betterment of all.
This is all part of reconciling divisions and handling the collective trauma waged by The Troubles. But who are victims and survivors? What is the value of the Commission 12 years on and how does it reflect a modern Ireland? What about people living in diaspora communities? What are its barriers?
What did you hear?
On 17 Oct 2020, the Liverpool Irish Festival led a Zoom interview between Patrick Kilety and two Commission For Victims and Survivors Forum members, Paul McCormac and Alan Brecknell. The #LIF2020 event was set up to consider reconciliation and what still needs to happen to assist community recovery following the Good Friday Agreement and the Troubles which led to its development.
This recording, is of that event. It is not remastered or edited, but is a document of what was said that day. It is not a professional recording and is offered simply for those who were not able to attend to hear what happened there. It is a bit scrappy, relying as it did on individual devices and connections, but it is representative of people’s experiences and histories.
Trigger warning: it is at times challenging, dealing as it does with the deaths of love ones.. The Troubles saw over 3,700 people die and 40,000 people injured and traumatised. For some their stories may already have vanished from view, but these -at least- have not fallen by the wayside.
Not passing violence on to future generations is at the heart of the debate and there is a lot of hope to be found in understanding reconciliation and how society can build peace.
We hope you find it an interesting listen.
During the session the following questions were asked, but unanswered:
Susan asked: “Can you talk about the Government’s underfunding of the legacy investigations?”
The Commission for Victims and Survivors reply to this is:
“In our 2019 advice paper Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past (found under the resources section of our website), we outlined our view that the allocated funding of £150 million was not enough to allow the proposed Historical Investigations Unit to fully deliver on its responsibilities and that -without proper funding- it won’t be fit for purpose. That view has been pretty unanimous amongst anyone with an interest in the HIU and so we recommended, in that advice paper, that the government needs to adequately fund the HIU and all of the other bodies they had designed to address the past”.
Aislinn said: “I’d be interested to hear more about Paddy’s reflections on a possible united Ireland, particularly after his new documentary and seeing things from the perspective of the people in the Republic (The Irish Borderlands is the reference, for that oral history project)”.
In answer to this, Paddy said that all of his thoughts would be outlined -extensively- in that documentary! Teasing, he said we would need to watch out for it. It will be on our screens, via the BBC, next Easter. We will try to post a link to it as soon as there is more information.
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