An extract from Jim Allister MLA’s contribution to yesterday’s Haass debate:
Mr Allister: I am in this House unashamedly and unapologetically as a unionist. Therefore, when I read the seventh document from Haass, I make no apology for asking this question: what is in this document for unionism? Sadly, I find nothing, effectively, for unionism.
I consider the issue of the national flag. The document does nothing to restore the Union flag to its rightful place on Belfast City Hall. It does nothing to give it more prominent display on this Building. On flags, it delivers nothing for unionism.
On the past, this is a document that fails to even grapple with one of the most obscene, objectionable matters that touches upon the past: the definition of a victim. It does not at all address the issue of the equivalence that exists between the victim-maker and the victim. In that, it is a gross betrayal of innocent victims. I think that anyone supportive of innocent victims should have, within that process, made that the beginning and the end of the test of whether or not there was anything attainable. That has been a scourge in this society that has been used by the victim-makers to validate themselves and provide equivalence with those they made victims.
I come to the document and look to how it will deal with terrorism. I am still waiting for Mr Lyttle to put me right, but I find that it has nothing to say about the fact that, for 30 years and more, this Province was subjected to an unwarranted, vile campaign of terrorism. Instead, it sanitises it down to “the conflict”. It talks about actors. Mr Speaker, it was no actor who firebombed the La Mon hotel; it was no actor who took 10 innocent workmen out of a van at Kingsmills and slaughtered them in cold blood; it was no actor who planted the bomb in Enniskillen; it was no actor who went into a public house in Greysteel. They were terrorists, one and all. Anyone who fails to address that fundamental foundational issue in dealing with the past is making no serious effort to deal with it. On that, these proposals hopelessly flounder.
You then move, within that, to discover that innocent victims are meant to be exhilarated and encouraged by the fact that they might get some sanitised, self-serving version of Provo or Ulster Freedom Fighter (UFF) truth about why their innocent relatives died. It can even be anonymous. It is certainly untestable. That is itself an insult to innocent victims, who suffered so much at the hands of terrorists.
Mr Lyttle: Will the Member give way?
Mr Allister: Yes.
Mr Lyttle: Does the Member acknowledge that there are innocent victims in Northern Ireland who have lobbied for, asked for and requested the very process that he has just so fundamentally objected to?
Mr Allister: If there are innocent victims who want to be satisfied with a self-serving, Provo version of the truth that they cannot test, that will raise more questions than it will answer and that might even come from an anonymous source, it is a matter for those victims, but, I must say that I do not know too many of them. The innocent victims whom I know crave justice, and justice is someone being held accountable for the villainy that was visited on them and their family, not hearing some self-serving story that is part of the rewrite of history by perpetrators of terrorism. That is the vehicle that the Haass proposals offer, in the diminution of, of course, and as an alternative to, the proper pursuit of justice.
On parading, the proposals open up a whole new vista, where anyone, anywhere can object to any parade anywhere and then require the parade organisers to subject themselves to negotiation with that individual. We are meant to think that that is progress? Like everything else that seems to be in the proposals, that is not progress and not an advance.
Mr Allister: What the proposals represent, and this is why it is so enthusiastic for them, is another opportunity to pocket what Sinn Féin sees as some advance until the concession meter next needs to be fed, and then it will be out demanding more.
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