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'We Will Remember Them': Report of the Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, April 1998

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We Will Remember Them

Report of the Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner,
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield KCB
April 1998

Design, origination, print commissioned and managed by
The Stationery Office Northern Ireland

[Report also available as a PDF file; 1165KB]

Table of Contents

Letter by the Commissioner to the Secretary of State

Chapter 1: The Origins and Remit of the Commission
1.1 Initial Announcement
1.2 Terms of Reference
1.3 Ambit of the Review
1.4 Establishing the Commission
Chapter 2: Who Are The Victims?
2.1Timescale of the Conflict
2.2 Analysis of the Dead
2.5 Scale of the Fatalities
2.6 Deaths in Great Britain
2.7 Deaths in the Irish Republic
2.8 Deaths in Continental Europe
2.9 Deaths of Other Nationalities
2.10Effects of Deaths upon Survivors
2.11Scale of the Injuries
2.13 Wider Effects of the Violence
2.14 Blame and Guilt
2.15 Victims of Other forms of Violence or Accident
Chapter 3: Proceedings of the Commission
3.1 Communication through the Media
3.2 Invitations to Submit Views
3.3Special Consideration for those Killed or Injured in the Service of the Community
3.4 Contact with Public Agencies
3.5 Contact with Victims and Organisation representing them
3.6 Local Meetings of the Commission
3.7 Meetings in Great Britain and the Irish Republic
3.8 Submission of Views in Writing
3.9 Sensitivity of the Issues
3.10Use of Research conducted by Others
3.11Study of Practical Problems already in Progress
3.12The Value of 'Telling the Story'
3.13Remembrance and Memorial elsewhere
3.14The USA
3.18South Africa
Chapter 4: Timeliness: Whether and When?
4.1 Opposition to the idea of 'A Memorial'
4.3 Arguments for a Memorial
4.4 Scepticism about an Acceptable Solution
4.5 Importance of the Wider Civic Environment
4.6 Need to address Three Dimensions: Practical help; A non-physical memorial scheme; a physical memorial project
Chapter 5: Recognition by way of Practical Help
5.1 Priority for the Views of Victims
5.2 Emphasis on Practical Needs
5.3 Sources of Practical Help
5.4 Views of Victims that more should be done
5.5 Criminal Injuries Compensation
5.13Role of the Concerned Employer
5.14Need for Special Consideration of those who Served the Community
5.15Distinctions between different Categories of Victim
5.16Need for a Sympathetic and Understanding Approach by Public Agencies
5.17A Public Expenditure Priority: Need for a 'Champion'
5.18Advice and Counselling
5.19Need for Support in immediate Aftermath
5.21Need for Longer-term Support
5.22Excellent Work in Progress
5.23'Living with the Trauma of the Troubles'
5.24Advice available but not force-fed
5.26Need for a Powerful Voice for Victim Interests
5.27A 'Standing Conference'
5.28A 'Listening Ear': Case for a Standing Commission or Ombudsman for Victims
5.29The Problem of Pain
5.30Case for Higher Priority for Treatment of Pain and Trauma
5.31A Victim's Perspective
5.32'Truth and Justice'
5.34Victims and Justice
5.35Code of Practice for Victims of Crime
5.36A Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
5.38The 'Disappeared' and 'Exiles'
5.39The Displaced
Chapter 6: Recognition by Way of Memorial Schemes
6.1Existing Memorial Schemes
6.3An Archive
6.4 A Focus on Children and Young People
6.5 A Memorial Appeal
6.6 Support for 'Mutual Understanding' activity in Great Britain
6.7 Civic Recognition
6.8 The Role of Religion
6.9 A New Public Holiday: 'Memorial and Reconciliation Day'
Chapter 7: Possible Schemes of Physical Memorial
7.2 Scope of Appendix I
7.3A Memorial of Public Utility
7.4 A Memorial National Park
7.5 A Forest or Garden
7.6 Forms of Built Memorial
7.7Nature of a Monument
7.13 A Northern Ireland Memorial
7.17Use of a Northern Ireland Memorial Building
Chapter 8: How to Proceed from Here
8.1 Summary of Recommendations
8.2 Publication of the Report
8.3 Consultation on Recommendations
8.4 Association with wider Political Development
8.5 Timing and Appropriateness
8.7 A Commission to Develop a Project
8.8 Choice and Management of a Project
8.9 A Postscript
Appendix 1: Summary of Suggestions made to the Commission
Appendix 2: Recommendations of 'Living with the Trauma of the Troubles'

Rt Hon Dr Marjorie Mowlam MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

29 April 1998

Dear Secretary of State

I have completed the task for which you commissioned me in November 1997, and now submit my report and recommendations.

In Chapter 1 of this report I discuss the remit of the Commission, and how it came about. I go on in Chapter 2 to consider the dimensions of the task, including a working definition of "those who have become victims in the last thirty years as a consequence of events in Northern Ireland".

Thereafter, in Chapter 3, I set out the basis upon which I conducted my review. I explain how I sought views and opinions and how I obtained them. I refer in particular to work already carried out or set in hand by others which has been of the greatest assistance to me. I reflect also upon lessons to be learned from the steps taken to acknowledge victims of violence at other times and in other places.

I go on, in Chapter 4, to address the question of timeliness, taking into account the views of those who have argued strongly that steps to recognise victims could be premature in advance of some final settlement and reconciliation.

The next three chapters are concerned with different possible forms of recognition, which are not mutually exclusive. In the first of these, Chapter 5, I argue that the most urgent and in some respects the most useful form of recognition would be to pursue areas of policy and service provision where, it can be argued, State and society have not yet adequately met the practical needs of victims. Chapter 6 looks at possible memorial schemes as distinct from physical projects, while Chapter 7 examines the case for some kind of physical memorial.

In all of this I have been guided by a simple yardstick: we have created victims through violence, and we have produced violence out of division. It follows, then, that any form of recognition likely to generate division rather than to foster reconciliation should be avoided.

On the basis of the foregoing, I go on in Chapter 8 to consider how best to proceed from here. You should, in my view, be guided not just by my recommendations but by the community's reaction to them. Nor should the many constructive ideas submitted to the Commission by others, but not featuring in my own recommendations, be overlooked. For that reason I have listed many such ideas in Appendix 1 to this Report. I make recommendations as to how to handle a consultation stage, a detailed project-planning stage and the longer-term arrangements for funding, managing and monitoring any chosen project. I have noted with great satisfaction the positive references to the issue of "Reconciliation and Victims of Violence" in the comprehensive accord entered into by the two Governments and the several parties.

In more than forty-five years of public service, I have never been asked to undertake a task of such human sensitivity. The letters I have read and the stories I have heard in carrying out the work of the Commission will be burned into my memory forever. I could only describe the task you gave me as a painful privilege: painful, because I have encountered grief and human suffering on an enormous scale; a privilege, because I have encountered also such courage, such endurance and - often from those most gravely affected - such generosity of spirit.

Yours sincerely,

Sir Kenneth Bloomfield KCB, Commissioner

Table of Contents

The Origins and Remit of The Commission

Initial Announcement
1.1 The intention of establishing a Commission "to look at possible ways to recognise the pain and suffering felt by victims of violence arising from the troubles of the last 30 years, including those who have died or been injured in the service of the community" was announced by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in Belfast on 24 October, 1997. It was made clear that this initiative had been discussed with the Prime Minister who, "from his discussions and meetings with people across Northern Ireland, felt that not enough attention had been paid to those who had suffered". In announcing that I had been asked to lead such a Commission, Dr Mowlam noted that I had been asked "to have particular regard to the possibility of establishing a new memorial reflecting both the sorrows of the past and hope for a stable future".

Terms of Reference
1.2 On 19 November 1997 the Secretary of State wrote to me with the following formal Terms of Reference:
"To lead the Commission and to examine the feasibility of providing greater recognition for those who have become victims in the last thirty years as a consequence of events in Northern Ireland, recognising that those events have also had appalling repercussions for many people not living in Northern Ireland"
and asking me to consult various organisations concerned with the welfare of the bereaved and disabled, as well as with community groups, churches and political parties, and to make recommendations to her.

Ambit of the Review
1.3 In a subsequent lengthy discussion with the Secretary of State about the scope of the work, I was able to confirm that I could consider practical measures to deal with pain and suffering experienced by victims alongside the issue of a memorial project or scheme, and that I should of course acknowledge the special obligation owed by the State to people killed or injured in the course of protecting persons or property or in providing essential public services.

Establishing the Commission
1.4I also established that, in being asked to lead the Commission, it was not implied that further Commissioners should or would be appointed. My first task would be to oversee the provision of administrative support, and in this I was most fortunate to secure the services of Mary Butcher, whose previous work for the Northern Ireland Office had given her extensive contacts throughout the community. Mary has been a tower of strength throughout this work. I was clear from the outset that this must not be a "one man Commission"; I would rather seek to work with a very wide range of interests and people both inside and outside Northern Ireland, and in particular with those who had suffered in a very direct way from the violence of the last three decades. I hope that all of those whom I met or who wrote to me (many of whom had suffered themselves) will feel they have played a part in shaping this Report.

Table of Contents

Who are the Victims?

Time-scale of the Conflict
2.1My first task was to consider the dimensions of the problem I had been asked to address. Who were "those who have become victims in the last thirty years as a consequence of events in Northern Ireland"? The definition of the length of what has been euphemistically described as "the troubles" is necessarily an arbitrary one. A period of thirty years up to the date of announcement would begin in October 1967, although many historians and others would identify the first stirrings of the current conflict in the clash of conflicting ideologies in 1966, at the time of commemoration of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme respectively. The tragedies of that year are a part of this sad record. The events of 1966 are, perhaps, a timely reminder that in our society commemoration itself can too easily take on a confrontational quality.

Analysis of the Dead
2.2The easier part of the task of definition is to enumerate those who have died as a consequence of the conflict, both in Northern Ireland itself and elsewhere. Unhappily this list of the dead has grown in length even as this Commission has been deliberating. The taxi-meter of violent death has continued to tick over.
2.3I shall deal more adequately in the next chapter with the debt I owe to much work of analysis and review carried out by others. In the specific area of identifying the victims, I have been able to draw not only upon useful Government statistics, but also upon the work of the Cost of the Troubles Study, directed by Marie Smyth, research fellow of INCORE.
2.4I turn first to the question of deaths occurring in Northern Ireland. The Cost of the Troubles Study (COTT) calculated that by 3 December 1997, 3,585 people had been killed in Northern Ireland "since 1969". Analysis of these deaths revealed some striking facts:
(a) The dead were predominantly male (91 %).
(b) The dead were predominantly within age groups with a considerable expectation of further life (37% under 24, 53% under 29, 74% under 39).
(c) COTT estimates that 53% of the dead were civilians with no affiliation to any security force or paramilitary organ isation. A further 28.8% were serving members of the security forces (14.5% from outside Northern Ireland and 14.3% from locally-recruited RUC, UDR or RIR, including almost 300 police officers); COTT estimates that 12.5% of the dead were Republican paramilitaries, and just over 3% Loyalist paramilitaries.
(d) The death rate has been rather higher within the Catholic than the Protestant population (2.5 per 1,000 for Catholics and 1 .9 per 1,000 for Protestants).
(e) COTT estimates that 87% of the total had been killed by paramilitaries (59% by Republicans and 28% by Loyalists) and about 11 % by the security forces.
(f) The death toll has been particularly high in North and West Belfast, Londonderry and South Armagh.
There have, of course, been further victims since December 1997.

Scale of the Fatalities
2.5 Some 3,600 deaths may not seem too calamitous when compared with the scale of the Holocaust, with the local fatalities in the First World War, or with the suffering in Bosnia or Rwanda or Cambodia. But all of this has to be considered against the small scale of Northern Ireland. If the UK as a whole, with its population of some 58 million people, had experienced death pro rata, as compared with 1.6 million population of Northern Ireland, there would have been a total of over 130,000 dead. The trauma of killing has been protracted, and particular communities have suffered disproportionately from it.

Deaths in Great Britain
2.6Unhappily, as my Terms of Reference acknowledge, events in Northern Ireland have also had "appalling repercussions" for people living today, or indeed living throughout, outside Northern Ireland. Many soldiers gravely wounded in our conflict cope with their disabilities in Great Britain or elsewhere, as do widows and other relatives of such soldiers. As compared with all the previou outbreaks of Republican violence, action on the mainland of Great Britain has been widespread and sustained. The long finger of violent death has extended into many areas of London, and to such places as Aldershot, Birmingham, Brighton, Coventry, Deal, Derby, Enfield, Guildford, Leeds, Lichfield, Pevensey, St Alban's and Warrington. In some of these instances the security forces wen deliberately targeted; in many other cases the victims were civilians, from distinguished Members of Parliament to young children. The total death toll in Great Britain amounted to 119.

Deaths in the Irish Republic
2.7 Nor have the population of the Irish Republic been unaffected. Very serious terrorist outrages in Dublin and Monaghan killed or injured substantial numbers of Irish citizens; the Garda Siochana, like the RUC, came under attack; while the deaths in the Irish Republic included also one of the most famous of living Englishmen, Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Deaths in Continental Europe
2.8 Beyond these islands, activities in continental Europe have led to yet further deaths. These have often resulted from the organisation of, or the response to, attacks on British service personnel abroad.

Deaths of Other Nationalities
2.9 A bomb as it explodes, or a bullet as it makes its mark, cannot distinguish between religion, nationality, race or political sympathy of those in its path. Some have died in grotesque 'mistakes', made all the more insufferable by subsequent 'apology'. Death has been visited not only upon British or Irish citizens, but also upon those from areas as widespread as Holland, Australia and USA. Two telling letters from a respondent to my request for views provided a salutary reminder that Asians as well as Europeans had lost their lives.

Effects of Deaths upon Survivors
2.10 The dead cannot be restored to life, and the living victims of all these incidents are those - mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children - whose lives have been marked and diminished by these events. Each fatality can be compared with a heavy stone dropped into a pool of water, with ripples extending far and wide. These "secondary effects" of violent death are serious, often involving a reduced standard of life for dependants, acute mental agony and in too many cases continuing trauma. It has to be appreciated, too, that in some cases the death of a loved one may only have been a part, albeit the worst part, of the adverse impact of being attacked, in that a home may be wrecked and/or a business premises destroyed at the same time.

Scale of the Injuries
2.11Those who mourn have to cope with the effects of violence over the long term. But there are a very large number of others who must face the continuing effects of serious injury, and these include both the injured themselves and those who care for them. For them, too, the consequences can be complex. They will often include not only physical and emotional trauma, but the adverse economic consequences of the injury for employability and earning-power.
2.12 There is no reliable central register of the injured, or measure of the long-term economic and other effects of their injuries. Statements issued immediately after a serious incident normally state the numbers of dead and/or injured. In some cases, after the initial trauma of an incident and effective treatment, individuals suffer no serious long-term consequences. In other cases the degree of enduring physical disability may be very severe, and in yet others the lasting psychological effect may be profound. Work by COTT and others would indicate between forty and fifty thousand injured. There is no room for doubt that this has involved much enduring suffering and disability:- blindness, loss of hearing, disfigurement, single or multiple amputation etc. The unknown but certainly large number of persons suffering long-term disability also translates to a much larger number of "secondary victims" in families permanently damaged by the injuries of a close relative. Again, as in the case of fatal casualties, an incident has all too often thrown up other traumatic consequences such as the loss of a house or a business.

Wider Effects of the Violence
2.13 There is, in a sense, some substance in the argument that no-one living in Northern Ireland through this most unhappy period of its history will have escaped some degree of damage. Many who have happily escaped death or injury have nevertheless been exposed to threat and danger. Certain localities in particular have experienced an enduring atmosphere of tension and menace Social life has been constrained. Economic progress has been impeded. Nevertheless, this Commission must aim its effort at a coherent and manageable target group. These I define as the surviving injured and those who care for them, together with those close relatives who mourn their dead.

Blame and Guilt
2.14 One of the most sensitive issues I have been obliged to confront is that of blame. Many people feel strongly that any person engaged in unlawful activity who is killed or injured in pursuit of it is a victim only of his own criminality and deserves no recognition for it. It is, of course, the case that proven involvement in such activity can invalidate a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation under Northern Ireland law. Having myself survived, some years ago, an attempted assassination can appreciate how strongly many people feel about this aspect. I would, however, make the point that any individual's involvement in unlawful activity does not lessen the grief and loss of close family who mourn him or her, many of whom may well have been unaware of the nature involvement. We need to remember that our society does not attribute guilt by association. The degree of guilt to be borne by any individual is a matter, in the civil sphere, for courts of law, an in the moral sphere for a higher jurisdiction.

Victims of other forms of Violence or Accident
2.15One final point needs to be made in this Chapter. Although I have sought to give, in paragraph 2.13 above, a definition of "victims" for the purpose of the Commission's work, we shall see as we proceed that it is difficult in some cases to draw an absolutely clear line between categories. Does the State owe any lesser obligation of counselling and practical support to a woman who kisses her husband goodbye and learns he has been killed by a drunken motorist than it does if that husband has been killed by a random terrorist bomb? The answer may be in a distinction between two forms of recognition - the recognition of service and the recognition of remembrance?

Table of Contents

Proceedings of The Commission

Communication through the Media
3.1The first task of the Commission was to establish the necessary administrative support. Thereafter, the immediate priority was to inform the public in general about the establishment of the Commission and the ambit of its Terms of Reference, and to invite anyone with views to express or suggestions to make to communicate these to us. For that purpose, advertisements were placed in the principal local newspapers, and in addition I made myself available for various media and television interviews, designed to reach national as well as local audiences. On 25 November 1997 I held a Press Conference to outline the way in which I proposed to approach the Commission's work.

Invitations to Submit Views
3.2With the Commission formally launched, I began an extensive consultation exercise. This involved 3. writing to political and Church leaders, and to a wide range of other statutory, voluntary or community-based organisations or agencies. Here it was easier to identify bodies whose principal or only concern was with the victims of violence than to be sure there was a comprehensive approach to other organisations which confronted relevant problems alongside other responsibilities. In this task, however, I was greatly assisted by such "umbrella organisations" as NICVA, the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust and the Community Relations Council. In all, I invited a considerable number of voluntary or community organisations in writing to let me have their views.

Special Consideration for those Killed or lnjured in Serving the Community
3.3I acknowledged also a special responsibility, which had been made explicit at the time of the original announcement by the Secretary of State in October 1997, to address the concerns of those who had been killed or injured in the service of the community. I therefore made contact with appropriate levels of senior management in the armed services, in the police, in the Prison, Ambulance and Fire services and elsewhere, drawing also on the experiences of serving or former officers employed in these services or organisations directly representing their interests.

Contact with Public Agencies
3.4In addition to this, I was anxious to draw upon the experience of those Government and public agencies whose responsibilities do or could impact upon the circumstances of victims. So it was that I arranged discussions with senior officials concerned with criminal justice, with the scheme of compensation for Criminal Injuries, and with the medical and social services delivered under the aegis of DHSS.

Contact with Victims and Organisations representing them
3.5Above all, though, I acknowledged the need to draw directly upon the experience of those who had themselves been victims of violence. At an early stage in the work, WAVE (an admirable organisation with a special concern for the bereaved) invited me to meet a group of widows. We sat in a circle and they discussed openly their harrowing experiences, and the gaps they saw in proper and adequate provision to sustain them. One of these ladies had earlier sat beside me in a BBC Radio Ulster studio as she discussed the circumstances in which, years ago, her son had become one of "the disappeared". I came to the conclusion that morning that above all else I must pay close attention to the views of those who have suffered most. The point has already been made that the fatalities have been predominantly amongst men; it follows that very often it has been women who have been left behind to "pick up the pieces".

Local Meetings of the Commission
3.6Some of the WAVE group had travelled a considerable distance to be with me that day. This realisation reinforced a view that I needed to get out and about around Northern Ireland, to make myself conveniently available to interested parties and groups. Such encounters could often best be set up by a respected local organisation. I therefore embarked on a series of meetings. These were not 'public meetings' in the absolute sense, but all known local groups associated with work for the victims were invited, as were individuals who, in writing to me, had expressed a wish to meet me. In all, I attended general meetings in the local government districts of Derry, Cookstown, Fermanagh and Armagh as well as a number in Belfast, and made visits directed specifically to widows and victims from a security forces background. In all I encountered face-to-face some hundreds of people who were directly affected and exchanged views in dialogue with many of them. It was most helpfully suggested to me that I might listen to the views of young people, and this led to a constructive discussion with senior pupils from six diverse schools, held at the Methodist College, Belfast.

Meetings in Great Britain and the Irish Republic
3.7I had to keep in mind, too, the "many people not living in Northern Ireland" referred to in the Commission's Terms of Reference. I therefore travelled to Warrington, (where I met the fathers of Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball), and Manchester and also Glencree in County Wicklow when I had the opportunity to exchange views with a group from the Irish Republic. I am deeply grateful to all of these people for helping me, inevitably at the cost to them of reviving unpleasant memories.

Submission of Views in Writing
3.8As a result of the advertising, a considerable number of individuals wrote to the Commission offering comments and suggestions. Again, many of these included the most moving accounts of harrowing personal experience. They exhibited an understandably wide range of emotions: universal grief, a sense of questions unanswered and of course - understandably - sometimes deeply-felt anger. Yet the overall tenor was helpful and constructive. Many people had reflected impressively upon the challenges facing the Commission.

Sensitivity of the Issue
3.9Not all the organisations I invited to comment chose to do so. Some have perhaps (and understandably) been pre-occupied by other concerns arising, for example, out of the ongoing political process. Because I was anxious to test the issue of whether people would prefer memorials in their own locality rather than some single project for the whole of Northern Ireland, I invited the 26 District Councils to let me have their views. Much the greater number of these replied in the sense that they knew I had contacted the various political parties and that they would prefer to leave any reaction to that source. I detected an implication in this reaction that Council debate on these issues in the current circumstances could too easily be divisive in character.

Use of Research conducted by others
3.10If I was to report within a realistic time-scale, I could not hope to complete a great deal of original research. I was, therefore, relieved and gratified to find that much useful work had already been done by various groups and individuals, and that those concerned were gracious enough to allow me to draw heavily upon it. I have already made reference to the Cost of the Troubles Study in Chapter 2. I was to find that Jane Leonard, in a report commissioned by the Community Relations Council and the Arts Council, had produced a most useful and interesting work ("Memorials to the Casualties of Conflict, Northern Ireland, 1969 to 1997") to which I shall make more detailed reference in Chapter 7. Alongside this, it was pointed out to me that the present Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, had written a book on "War Memorials" published in 1991 when he was Director General of the Imperial War Museum. Dr Borg was kind enough to see me in London and to let me have a copy of this work.

Study of Practical Problems already in progress
3.11Others had been addressing in various ways the practical problems faced by victims in coping with the aftermath of violence. The Social Security Inspectorate had been involved since 1995 in a developmental project to examine and promote the further development of services to meet the social and psychological needs of individuals affected by civil unrest. Working with concerned and expert clinicians, the Disabled Police Officers Association had been working up a case for giving a higher priority to the treatment of the recurrent or constant physical pain from which so many victims suffer. Several agencies had been collaborating in bringing forward proposals to develop a more comprehensive and effective counselling service.

The Value of 'Telling the Story'
3.12As I received passionate letters of ten, a dozen or more pages, or listened to the first-hand account by survivors of their own trauma, I had a growing realisation that, for some at least, the cathartic effect of putting one's experience on record is profound. I therefore listened with great interest and sympathy to the account by the distinguished poet, Damian Gorman, of his effort to build up a comprehensive archive
"to gather and house individual experiences, feelings, testimonies relating to the 'Troubles' from as wide a range as possible. The process we are engaged in is open to absolutely anyone who wants to record - in words, images, or any creative podium - what they have been feeling during this time in all our lives."
This project, called "An Crann/The Tree" has interesting parallels with the determination of survivors of the Holocaust not to allow the sufferings of their lost relatives to be erased from history and the collective consciousness.

Remembrance and Memorial elsewhere
3.13 I was fortunate indeed to be informed about, and to draw upon, the work of others. I also had to consider what useful lessons (if any) could be drawn from the efforts to afford recognition to victims at other times and in other places. As chance would have it, I have had the opportunity in recent years to visit a number of countries around the world who seek to remember the victims of violent conflict.

3.14Here I would like to refer in particular to the USA, Israel, Spain and South Africa. A visit to Washington these days commonly takes in the Korean and Vietnam Memorials as well as the great monuments to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. In the case of the Memorials those who are commemorated are the honoured dead of one side - the American side - in two great conflicts. Thus it is that although the Vietnam War was a source of grave domestic controversy within the United States, some of which spilled over on to the Memorial of that War, the ultimate form of that Memorial embodies the listing of names of "our boys" common to War Memorials the world over. The American Civil War - a quarrel between brothers - had been a different matter. There are not, in practice, numerous memorials to all the dead American soldiers, be they Union or Confederate. It is much more common to find in the North monuments to the Union, and in the South monuments to the Confederate dead. The listing of former enemies side by side is highly unusual but not unknown. In the entrance to the beautiful chapel of New College, Oxford, two tablets face each other. One lists the very many names of alumni killed in the British forces during the First World War; the other lists the much smaller number of names of those who also died fighting for their country, in this case Germany. This is likely to be possible only if there is some other basis for solidarity than national identity. The Lincoln Monument is inscribed with the magnanimous and memorable words used by the great President on the battlefield of Gettysburg; but such magnanimity, even from such a noble statesman as Lincoln, may only be possible in the aftermath of a comprehensive victory. As Churchill put it in his words introducing his vast history of the Second World War:- "In War: Resolution/ In Defeat: Defiance/ In Victory: Magnanimity/ In Peace: Goodwill." Perhaps the most relevant lesson from the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials is that noble and healing words may have a part to play as one seeks to remember and understand the past.

3.15Spain also experienced a terrible Civil War. The vast and rather brutal monument at Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) some 58 kilometres from Madrid purports to remember the hundreds of thousands of victims from both sides in the Spanish Civil War, but the fact that it is also the last resting place of the dictator General Franco, the victor of that war, diminishes its capacity to be a rallying-point in today's more pluralist Spain.

3.16One would need a heart of stone not to be moved by the remarkable Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Using a variety of techniques, and often making its point by understatement and simplicity, Yad Vashem is deeply rooted in the solidarity of the Jewish people, both inside Israel and outside it, in the face of their appalling experiences. I have referred elsewhere to An Crann/The Tree. A growing emphasis is now placed in Jerusalem on precisely that issue of record and remembrance which Damian Gorman and his colleagues have recognised as important. One remembers also in Jerusalem the remarkable stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall commissioned for the Hadassah Medical Centre, which illustrate the capacity of the graphic and other arts to create a space of refuge and tranquillity.
3.17 It is not only in Jerusalem that victims of the Holocaust are remembered. There is today a fine Museum for that purpose in Washington DC, and efforts taking over ten years to create such a facility in Berlin seem at last to be coming to a conclusion. It is no surprise to learn that the Berlin project has from beginning to end been difficult and controversial.

South Africa
3.18Then there is South Africa. Time and again my attention has been drawn to events in that country, so brutally divided in the past and seeking to find a way forward through a maze of difficulties. It has been a society riven by conflict: between black, white and coloured; between liberal and authoritarian; between English and Afrikaner traditions in Church and State; between tribes and competing political factions. It would be quite premature to conclude that the prospect or reality of violence has been eliminated through political development, but a number of those I met who had studied its role and work pointed to the model of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as one means of recognising victims of the conflict there, by seeking to establish the truth about the circumstances in which they suffered. It has to be remembered, though, that movement to establish such a Commission came out of the wider political process, and involved a 'trade' between the establishment of the truth and the possibility of amnesty at the Commission's discretion. This may be a useful indicator that action to recognise the victims of a conflict could be, and arguably should be, an element in the wider political process rather than an initiative isolated from it. South Africa is by no means the only country to have resorted to the device of a Commission with a role in establishing previously-obscure facts.
3.19While it is useful to look at wider international experience, it would be a mistake to suppose that our current situation is on all fours with any of the examples I have considered above. The Korean, Vietnam, American Civil and Spanish Civil Wars had all been brought to a clear-cut end, through victory or some other means. In South Africa the parties had, happily, not 'fought to the finish'; but by mutual accommodation moved at least into a distinctive new phase, as pregnant with possibility as with difficulty. Here in Northern Ireland it remains to be seen whether we can reach an accommodation widely acceptable to parties and people, and whether such an accommodation itself can bring the cycle of violence to a definitive end.

Table of Contents

Timeliness: Whether and When?

Opposition to the idea of 'A Memorial'
4.1 Some of those who communicated their views to me (albeit a minority) were notably antipathetic to any action by way of remembrance either now or in foreseeable circumstances. There seemed to me to be a variety of motives for reaching such a negative conclusion. There were those who regarded any programme of 'recognition' as a distraction from issues they considered more important, including the establishment of the truth and the bringing to justice and the condign punishment of those responsible for various crimes and atrocities. There were others who considered the first priority should be to look for a spirit of apology and repentance from those, whether Governments, parties, organisations or individuals, who had done wrong. Critics felt that successive Governments had failed to get a proper grip on the political and security situation, and that 'recognition' would be no more than a sop to people who had suffered as a consequence. Still others took a different view. This was in essence that our society should close the book on those painful times, look to a more harmonious future and avoid the memorialisation of events which could only open old wounds and revive old divisions.
4.2 It became very clear to me that, while some would be very happy to receive special treatment and recognition as 'victims', others would abhor it. The reaction to trauma differs enormously from one individual to another. One remembers John Mortimer's biographical work 'Voyage round my Father', in which his barrister father, suddenly struck blind in adult life, refuses absolutely to acknowledge his changed state or to have it referred to within the family. The ability of some people to shrug off appalling disabilities, and to prefer self-reliance to dependence upon support, is simply astonishing.

Arguments for 'A Memorial'
4.3 While I considered all these views with the utmost respect, I found myself ultimately unable to support them. In some cases they may have been based upon a false premise that formal memorialisation is the only available form of 'recognition'. For the rest, it has to be emphasised that proper recognition of victims does not stand in the way of progress on other fronts but could indeed, in the right circumstances, contribute to it. Moreover there is nothing in the history of Ireland to give us any grounds for believing that such a traumatic period in the life of our community can be eliminated from the collective consciousness. We truly need to remember those who have suffered, to grieve at the side of this communal grave, to reflect upon the truth of what occurred and to move forward from there. Above all, we have to persuade our children how costly and counter-productive it would be to pursue the animosities of the past. Every Holocaust museum or exhibition around the world must revive the most painful memories for Jews, but few amongst them seem to doubt the need for the world and their own descendants to remember and reflect. Not least amongst the objectives is that the memory of dead individuals, of dead families, of dead communities should not fade into the mist of history as if they had never been. This is an aspect which will be considered further.

Scepticism about an Acceptable Solution
4.4 Another minority might be described as the 'sceptics'; those who were not opposed to recognition' in principle, but who expressed extreme scepticism that any realistic means to achieve it could be identified in such a deeply-divided community. When my appointment to lead this Commission was announced, even close friends frequently used the expression 'a poisoned chalice'. Again, it became apparent as I proceeded that some of this scepticism flowed from the idea that my sole concern would be with some sort of formal memorial of traditional style, raising all kinds of obvious difficulties about categorisation and scope. As the next three Chapters show, I believe this is to take much too pessimistic a view - that it should be possible to look for means of recognition which are dignified, appropriate, reconciliatory rather than divisive, but above all timely.

Importance of the Wider Civic Environment
4.5 On the question of formal memorials to the casualties of a conflict, it is often - though not always - the case that action is taken to mark the end of that conflict. This does not impede particular interests from listing their honoured dead on some plaque or other memorial while a conflict continues, and adding further names from time to time. There are not a few instances in Norther Ireland where this has, indeed, been happening. It could, however, seem odd and inappropriate establish some central memorial to the dead of the whole conflict while it continued. A difficulty then is that our conflict may not have a tidy end, as may be achieved through an Armistice when nation states call a halt to military activity. The prospect of continuing action by irreconcilables, even in the face of a settlement widely acceptable to the population as a whole, cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless such a settlement would, as in South Africa, represent, if not an absolute end violence at least a defining stage in the relationship between communities.

Need to address Three Dimensions:
Practical help; A non-physical memorial scheme; A physical memorial project
4.6 As I have explained, I have adopted - in what may be an apt echo of the wider political process -what might be called a "three strand approach", involving consideration of practical forms of recognition of victims, memorial schemes in honour of those who have suffered and died, and projects for physical memorials of various kinds. The yardstick of timeliness applies in a different way to each of these distinct strands of inquiry. It is in the case of the physical memorial that the issue of timing is most sensitive, as I shall discuss fully in Chapter 8. On the other hand, if victims can be recognised by action of positive economic, social, medical or psychological benefit to the there can be no good reason for delay; indeed, any evidence of a continuing conflict would underline the need to have the best possible arrangements for the support of victims, and even a total cessation of violence would leave thousands of people coping with bereavement, the burde of caring, and/or the effects of physical or psychological damage for many years to come. The timeliness of non-physical memorial schemes would depend upon their nature; but it would certainly be possible to develop ideas capable of introduction whatever the wider political and security situation might be.

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