Following the appointment of former diplomat Richard Haass as new US special envoy to Northern Ireland, Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre call on the American and British authorities to suspend attempts to subpoena IRA interviews from the Belfast Project archive at Boston College until Dr Haass has completed his task of outlining an agreed and effective way to deal with the past.
They also call on the PSNI to similarly halt its criminal investigation of the Jean McConville disappearance.
We welcome the appointment of Dr Haass and hope that he succeeds in his task of creating a mechanism for dealing with the past that is not based on unconditional prosecutions. Pursuing the past by treating it as a series of crimes will deter and obstruct the search for truth while keeping the conflict alive in another guise. Failing to deal with the past in a way which neutralises it means that it will continue to haunt both the present and the future.
At the same time it is incumbent upon all parties to the conflict, paramilitary and security forces, from leaderships down to rank and file to commit themselves unalterably to the truth and make their records available to any investigatory process set up as a result of Dr Haass’s efforts. There must be openness and an end to implausible life stories. The dead and maimed of Northern Ireland deserve better.