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Michaela Mackin, Director of the Victims and Survivors Programme, NI Community Relations Council speaks at the Launch of the Transitional Justice Grassroots Engagement Report

Michaela Mackin, Director of the Victims and Survivors Programme, NI Community Relations Council speaks at the Launch of the Transitional Justice Grassroots Engagement Report


Transitional Justice – Grassroots Engagements Launch of Report – Bridge Of Hope

21 September 2012

“I am here from CRC to say that we are very pleased to be present at the launch today and to have been able to provide financial support for this work through the funds we have administered on behalf of OFMDFM. 

It was well over two years ago when Irene first approached me and spoke about Bridge of Hope’s thoughts and plans for this work.  She was passionate about the point that for local people living in North Belfast there should be an opportunity to explore the causes and effects of the political conflict through a range of interconnected strands.

My understanding was that this work was all about ensuring that those that have been most affected by the conflict have a contribution and should be part of a process for dealing with the past and building a better future civic society.

Irene was clear that efforts would be made to connect the learning of participants to that of their wider community and to assist in helping people to understand the different attitudes to truth recovery from within the main communities.   The transitional justice process was important in facilitating the sharing and development of trust and understanding between the participants, many of whom had been impacted by the conflict in NI.                                                                                 

The Victims & Survivors Committee of the Council gave their full support for this work and the Chair of our Committee, Leon Litvack took part in the working group, being interested and wishing to explore this pilot project further.  We are now pleased to welcome this report and would like to acknowledge Bridge of Hope for taking the lead role in ensuring that this important work could take place.

Engaging in a process of transitional justice is new to the victims and survivors sector and the report and the toolkit will help us to understand more about transitional justice in relation to dealing with the aftermath of our troubled past and will help us to take stock and understand the main legacy considerations and needs within a localised environment.  It is hoped that the report and the toolkit will be utilized by others interested in this work and that the information can be utilised by OFMDFM, the Commissioner for Victims & Survivors Office, the Victims & Survivors Service and others.

I believe that it is important for our society to take responsibility for supporting all of its citizens in a cohesive shared future together, and we have a duty to ensure that those who have been affected by our troubled past are supported moving forward to help realise a shared and peaceful future.  This transitional justice grassroots engagement demonstrates that people have had an opportunity to be part of a learning process that explores legacy issues in support of their own healing. 

We need to recognise that we are not yet in a post conflict situation but are at a critical and important transition period.  We need to take some major steps to complete the journey in conflict transformation and reconciliation.  Those steps include dealing with the legacy of the past and a focus on wider issues such as inequalities in health, social and economic matters.  

The issues of the past have not yet been completely resolved, transitional justice includes a focus on wider issues such as inequalities in health, emotional, physical, social and economic matters.  It is important that these are looked at to help secure a society that is peaceful, prosperous for future generations.

The Council would like to thank all those that who participated in this work and in particular Eilish Rooney at University of Ulster who gave of her time without payment and devoted a great deal of her energy and commitment to the work.   I would like acknowledge the work undertaken by the working group and ultimately those that participated for their courage to share their own personal experiences.  I realize that participation in this work would not have been easy and would at times be challenging and indeed at times painful.  Finally, acknowledgement has to go to Irene, Áine and the staff within Bridge of Hope for their commitment to this project as well as their therapeutic support and personal development programmes and services and care to victims and survivors.  I also would like to wish you the best of luck with the new transitional justice work in the West of the city. “

Michaela Mackin


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