DUP: No role for Sinn Fein in writing story of Troubles

DUP: No role for Sinn Fein in writing story of Troubles
by Sam McBride
The News Letter
01 May 2014

The DUP has pledged to prevent Sinn Fein from having any role in writing a “joint narrative” of the Troubles.

In a policy paper on victims’ issues to be published today, the party said that it was “very clear about the truth of the Troubles and will never compromise this by asking those who have engaged in terrorism to agree a joint narrative”.

The document said: “Sinn Fein will not be given a role in agreeing the narrative of the past. This would be morally repugnant. The facts are the facts; Sinn Fein’s agreement or lack thereof to those facts will not change the truth of the past.”

The paper also sets out a commitment that the party will “lobby for innocent victims to be prioritised in European and Peace Funding, and will press the European institutions to agree that victims are a named beneficiary for Peace IV funding”.

Millions of pounds of EU peace money has gone to former terrorist ex-prisoners’ groups, something which has been criticised by unionists and victims of terrorism.

The document also commits to “supporting a special pension for all physically severely injured innocent victims”.

The party – which last year did a U-turn on its initial support for a peace centre at the Maze prison site – said that it had always been opposed to “any glorification of terrorism or any shrine to what happened at the Maze Prison or elsewhere”.

It pledged that “we will never allow terrorism to be glorified at the Maze site” and “there shall be no Peace Centre at the Maze unless there is broad support across the community for any such proposal”.

DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “The DUP has always prioritised the needs of innocent victims. These commitments are the most wide-ranging of any political party in relation to innocent victims and go beyond any manifesto request from victims across the Province.

“We stand not just on our words, but our record, and since the restoration of devolution in 2007 we have ensured that funding to victims has more than tripled.”

Attacking those who supported the Belfast Agreement in 1998, Mr Robinson said that its rule that those convicted of Troubles crimes would only serve a maximum of two years in prison was “a form of amnesty”. He added: “We will not contemplate any rewriting of the terrorist campaign or compromise the truth of what happened here by asking those who engaged in terrorism to agree a joint narrative.”

DUP MEP Diane Dodds said that she had worked with victims “often quietly and away from the glare of publicity”.

Mrs Dodds challenged the SDLP and Alliance Party to join unionists in working to change the definition of a victim to exclude terrorists, something she said was “at the core of victims issues”. She said that the current definition was “wrong and must be addressed”.