East West legacy is key to a peaceful future
December 20, 2013 | Nick Taylor
Following conclusion of talks led by Drs. Haas and O’Sullivan in the early hours of 31st December, the Foundation for Peace continues to call upon the leaders of the Northern Ireland (NI) Executive parties and the review team to produce a report that acknowledges the legacy of GB victims of the Troubles in dealing with the past.
Talks in Belfast reached a conclusion in the early hours of New Years Eve and the Foundation, set up in memory of two boys,Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball, killed 20 years ago by the IRA, is concerned that the voices of GB victims and survivors are being ignored.
On 27 December 2013, the independent Chairs wrote to the Foundation and other parties who submitted a representation and published a position in the Belfast Telegraph – click here to read their letter. Talks resumed at 10:00 on Monday 30th December with a view to encouraging the executive Parties to reach a compromise by the end of the day. Sadly, agreement wasn’t reached and the parties are now discussing within their democratic structures.
The death, injury and impact relating to GB residents resulting from the NI ‘Troubles’ is a major aspect in regard to ‘dealing with the past.’
The Foundation for Peace is the author of a study of the needs of GB Victims & Survivors of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ but has not been consulted as part of the review even after representations were made on their behalf by two political parties. The Haass team accepted a written representation.
There was an estimated GB death toll of 600 (18% of the total) with over 2000 injured and many more impacted. 350,000 people served in the armed forces in Northern Ireland.
The Foundation is the only organisation set up outside Northern Ireland that provides programmes to specifically deal with the legacy that continues to impact many people across Great Britain.
The Foundation is disappointed that the Haass team failed to meet their team to learn about this large body of people they support and to view the operation of the international Peace Centre.
As part of the change to jurisdictional responsibility from the UK parliament to the NI Assembly, victims policy transferred and all funding ceased. As a consequence, GB victims and survivors are ineligible for any organisational help or even participation in processes related to dealing with the past. This means that a large constituency of people are excluded from services and in contributing to the creation of a resilient peace. The services we provide are at present funded by the Big Lottery (England’s lottery good causes redistribution) and the generosity of people from the local town of Warrington. There is a risk that all services will cease at the end of March 2014.
Nick Taylor, Chief Executive said: “this is yet another milestone day on the journey towards a lasting peace.
“The Troubles impacted our islands and were not constrained by geography or Government. We have around 500 people on our database, with two thirds related to the Troubles from incidents in Brighton, London, Birmingham, Warrington, Yorkshire and many more – these survivors, victims, bereaved families and ex-services personnel are dispersed across England, Scotland and Wales as well as people from Ireland and Northern Ireland who are now living in GB.
“Our programmes and centre is at the forefront of dealing with the past and it is disappointing that the review team couldn’t find the time to talk to us and we can only hope that the NI Panel report reflects our submission and that we ensure that our services are sustained as part of a cohesive way forward towards conflict resolution and a lasting peace.”
The Foundation for Peace was established 18 years ago and from simple beginnings bringing young people from conflict zones together in a safe space to explore differences and share similarities; has grown to be a unique independent charity that provides long term recovery to a client base of around 500 GB resident victims of terrorism and political violence, operates an international Peace Centre in England’s North West and is at the forefront of tackling extremism and radicalisation in schools, universities and communities both in GB and internationally. The Foundation is not conflict specific although it came from and learnt its methods in partnership with many organisations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This east west relationship is critical and needs to be sustained.
In summary, the charity is commissioned to provide violent conflict prevention, resolution and response programmes and services.
At present, the Foundation is entirely funded by the generosity of charitable donations and grants – this is not a sustainable or an appropriate way to deal with the past. We are independent, work with all sides in a conflict subject to ethical parameters and have only one cause – a belief that conflict exists and is a reality but can always be resolved without resorting to violence. We provide the tools and techniques to support victims and to challenge extremism and radicalisation. It is a combination of services addressing violent conflict before, during and after and the interfaces the approach creates that make us unique and very effective.
The Foundation is calling upon the UK Government and the NI Assembly via the Haass review to recognise the east west legacy. To revisit the legacy report and view the Foundation’s subsequent work and remove jurisdictional issues that prevent funding being identified to continue this work.
The Foundation programmes cost £150,000 per annum to deliver and funding is sought at this level from April 2014.