Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the International Center for Transitional Justice

  I am greatly encouraged that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is requesting evidence for ways of dealing with Northern ireland's past. In particular, I appreciate the stress on reconciliation.

  I write to you in my capacity as the former Deputy Chairperson of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I have stressed over and over again, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, that there are very real differences between the Northern Ireland situation and that of South Africa. Therefore I have never sought to propose that the South African model ought to be imposed on Northern Ireland. On the other hand, I have also tried to suggest that there are a number of similarities between Northern Ireland and South Africa. Inter Alia, I have mentioned the level of suffering, the conflict that neither side can win, that both Northern Ireland and South African could be described as "damaged societies" with a lack of awareness of the abnormality of both societies. Further, both societies have found it very difficult to face up to reality. Northern Ireland, like South Africa, lives in a world of difference and contested realities. It is important for both societies to acknowledge that in one real sense "we are all victims" and that we have all suffered as a result of prejudice and character assassination, and worse.

  I am taking the liberty of sending you by separate cover a. report published by Victim Support Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. This is a report of a visit I made to Northern Ireland and I think, whilst much longer than the 6 pages that you suggest, might be of assistance to your Committee.[1]

  If I can be of any further assistance or if there are any additional questions that you require answered or further comments you need, please don't hesitate to contact me. I have visited Northern Ireland at least six times and have come to love the people of that very beautiful and often tragic land.

1   Not printed. Back

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