Archbishop Martin: “We must seek an investigation and information recovery process trusted by victims”

Archbishop Eamon Martin with members of the congregation for the annual Mass for the Disappeared at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, this afternoon                           (photo credit: Liam McArdle).

Speaking today at the annual Mass for the Families of the Disappeared in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin commended the recently published Interim Kenova Report, stating:

“The recently published interim Kenova report highlights the failure to properly acknowledge the hurt inflicted on families during the Troubles and the lack of disclosure about murder which wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else.  John Boucher makes it clear that families like yours and others who are coping with the legacy of our conflict simply cannot find peace or trust until the truth emerges, and your loss is properly acknowledged.

“Meeting like this, every year, highlights and renews the importance of addressing fully and properly the legacy of our troubled past, and making it clear that we cannot accept the simplistic idea of ‘drawing the line’ under our past.  We must continue to seek an investigation and information recovery process which can be fully trusted by victims and survivors and which at least keeps the door open to accountability and the pursuit of justice.

“The fact that John Boucher so clearly acknowledges that information about legacy cases has too often been withheld and suppressed, draws attention to your long and painful pursuit of information about precisely where your loved ones were buried – a quest which sadly remains open for some of your families.  Thankfully, many of you have been able to recover the bodies of your loved ones and give them a Christian burial, but even then it took far too long for that to happen, and indeed some of you still endure the agonising suffering of not having answers.

“We have a long road ahead to find reconciliation and lasting peace in our society, and there is such a pressing need to continue to reach out across our community divides and to hear the heartfelt stories – often cruel stories – of murder, maiming, vilifying, and unfair and unjust allegations, innuendo and life-changing punishments.  If reconciliation is to happen then all families of our victims – including your own – need to continue to be recognised, loved ones appropriately memorialised, and the truth – however, unpalatable – of what happened needs to continue to be unearthed.

“Meanwhile, I commend your ongoing witness, your courage and sincere solidarity with each other, and your heartfelt desire for closure for the remaining families.  All of these send a hugely important message to everyone living on this island, and on these islands, a message that the past needs to be owned, understood, and appropriately accepted, before we can properly move on in the hope of a brighter shared future of peace, mutual understanding and prosperity for all.

“I am aware that May of this year marks the 25th anniversary of the independent commission for the location of victims remains.  In our thoughts, today we include Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and the late John Wilson, whose work as the first commissioners made such a difference.  The Work of the ICLVR down the years is one of the positive outcomes of the Belfast Good Friday agreement.  And we are grateful to all who have worked on or with the commission in the painstaking task of finding and returning the bodies of loved ones to their families for a proper Christian burial.”

+ Archbishop Eamon Martin

Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland.