The John and Pat Hume Foundation held an important discussion ‘20 years on – Reflections on the New Beginning to Policing’ on the Magee Campus of Ulster University, 9 November 2021. The Chair introduced and hosted the discussion for Ulster University as a Hume Foundation partners. The valuable reflections of Denis Bradley, Peter Smith QC, Judith Gillespie and Brian Dougherty are available on the John and Pat Hume Foundation YouTube Channel.
Article published today by Professor Hamber in the Belfast Telegraph on the British Government’s proposal for an amnesty for all conflict-related offences.
“Amnesty a line in the sand? It’s not even close”
If we know anything about the Johnson government in the UK, they are not great at sticking to agreements or taking the views of the devolved nations seriously. The recent statement by the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, proposing new legislation to enforce a statute of limitations for all conflict-related violations in Northern Ireland fits this mould.
In July 2019, following a 15-month consultation on the legacy proposal in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) of 2014 agreed by all political parties, the British Government committed to its full implementation. Two years later, it is now proposing to pull the SHA apart.
The recent proposals remove a focus on justice and investigation, favouring information recovery and storytelling under an undefined banner of reconciliation. All of Northern Ireland’s five main political parties, the Irish government, civil society organisations and most victims’ groups are heavily critical of what amounts to an amnesty for conflict-era offences. Yet, the views of the people of Northern Ireland, and especially victims of both state and non-state violence, seem to matter little.
CAIN has recently received funding from the Reconciliation Fund to compile a new web resource of speeches, statements, and articles by John Hume during his political career (1964 to 2004).
The work on this project began with a donation of source materials that Sean Farren had collected during the research on his book: Farren, Sean. (Ed.) (2017). John Hume: In his own words. The Chair wrote a Foreword for the book.
The new project was funded (in December 2019) by the Reconciliation Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dublin. The on-going work on this project is being carried out by Martin Melaugh. The initial working project page can be viewed here.
In early September the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, undertook a visit to Colombia (17-24 September 2015).
At the time, the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) were in the midst of negotiations to end a conflict that has spanned some 50 years.
The conflict has seen the death of some 250,000 people (80% civilians) and the displacement of 6.5 million people. Formal talks began in November 2012 in the Cuban capital, Havana. Several accords have been reached and the final agreement is set to be signed in 2016.
Professor Hamber was invited to Colombia at the request of the City of Valledupar, one of the cities (some 1.5 hours north east of Bogota by plane) that was most affected by conflict. Under the leadership of Mayor Fredys Miguel Socarras Reales, a series of conferences, presentations, and workshops is being organized, which will focus on preparing the regional implementation of the peace.
Professor Hamber addressed a range of community members (about 150-200) over a two-day process to discuss comparative peace lessons at a community level. He also met with the Mayor. After the community engagements he spent some days in Bogota meeting some key players in the peace process and sharing lessons with them and different civil society members.
The trip ended with a presentation to about 200-300 training lawyers at Libre University in Bogotá as part of conference on Reconciliation, Civil Law and Commissions. Again the focus was on comparative lessons from Northern Ireland.