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Big names at a key Féile debate

By Staff Reporter

A GROUNDBREAKING debate is set to take place during next month’s Féile an Phobail, bringing together a former PSNI Chief Constable and an award-winning investigative BBC journalist.
Hugh Orde will be joined on stage at the Balmoral Hotel on August 7 (3pm) by Panorama’s John Ware, during a discussion organised by victims’ group Relatives for Justice.
Clara Reilly, Chairperson of Relatives for Justice, explained the reason behind the event, which she has invited all to attend.
“Relatives for Justice is committed to the establishment of a fully independent truth process which delivers truth and accountability to those who have been bereaved and injured during our conflict,” she said. “This task has been consistently thwarted by vested interests more concerned with preserving their own narrative than delivering basic human rights to those worst affected by our conflict.
“Over the past five years efforts to control scrutiny of the state’s role during our conflict has had a significant detrimental impact on the PSNI. Elements within the PSNI who strenuously deny victims of the conflict access to basic information and due process have by their actions in inquest courts, the Historical Enquiries Team and with the Office of the Police Ombudsman, created an environment where the past now threatens the very institution of the PSNI.”
This happens, she said, while the recommendations of both the Consultative Group on the Past (Eames/Bradley) and the Haass/O’Sullivan talks go unimplemented.
“Former PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has made significant statements regarding the need for any process that deals with our past to be removed from the PSNI. He has called on the two governments to establish an independent process.
“This does not come from a vacuum. Hugh Orde was involved in the Stevens Team which investigated collusion and the murder of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane. He has seen the secrets that vested interests wish to protect.”
Clara added that journalist John Ware “through his style of investigation has brought more truth to families than any official process to date”.
She said: “John Ware has made significant Panorama programmes that interrogate state actions and policies during our conflict. From ‘The Dirty War’ which examined the operation of the Force Research Unit and the policy of collusion, and in it the exposure of MI5’s Brigadier Gordon Kerr and the their role in arming loyalism and procuring murder, ‘Who Bombed Omagh’, which made public the role of agents and covert British army units connected to the bombing on Omagh in 1998, and ‘Licence to Kill’, broadcast last November, which outlined the working of Military Reconnaissance Unit, John Ware has brought to public view British Army policies and practices which remain unaccounted for in our courts.”
Also taking part will be Denis Bradley, who since his work on the Consultative Group on the Past has repeatedly underlined the need to comprehensively deal with our past.
“In recent weeks he has spoken about the fundamental threat to the very existence of the PSNI if the past is not removed from it,” said Clara. “This event in Féile an Phobail is an opportunity to debate how we deal with our past and includes a figure who has an insight into the thinking of the vested interests of the state who argues for a truth recovery process based on independence.”

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