Today in Crumlin Road Gaol, Junior Minister Jennifer launched Bridge of Hope’s Transitional Justice Report.
“Thank you and good morning everyone.
I am delighted to be here today and to be able to play a part in the launch of this important report.
The violation of human rights and how we care for people who have been injured, bereaved or impacted by our troubled past is a critically important issue, not only for Government, but for all of us. We are committed to ensuring that the needs of victims and survivors are appropriately addressed and a key element of this was the development and introduction of a new Victims and Survivors Service. This is a major step forward.
I want to fully acknowledge the commitment of everyone involved in delivering services to victims and hope that you will use the new Service to help you fulfil your potential. I want to acknowledge the Bridge of Hope programme and how it works to empower and promote positive change for people who have been bereaved, physically harmed or psychologically affected by the conflict. Each victim and survivor has their own individual and unique story and comes from many different walks of life. The reality is that the needs of victims and survivors cannot be neatly pigeon-holed into separate categories and the likelihood is that there may be several interconnected problems at the same time. This is where Ashton Community Trust and the Bridge of Hope programme excel in their holistic approach to trauma recovery. They promote positive change and are improving the quality of life in the North Belfast area.
We can be very proud that Bridge of Hope took the initiative to pilot this programme and I would like to congratulate the author, Eilish on the publication of this report. Although this is a local production, through the Five Pillars included in the toolkit we are reminded that we are not alone in coming to terms with our troubled past, as it asks us to consider our legacy in the context of similar conflicts in other countries.
Through your work, we have a greater understanding of what Transitional Justice means for communities on the ground, not least in North Belfast which is grappling with such significant questions. I hope that other organisations will take the opportunity to read the report and to use the toolkit as a practical resource to help them see how they can work through the issues in their area. The report clearly demonstrates the difficulties involved in dealing with our troubled legacy. However the toolkit produced by the program provides a extremely useful method for dealing with these sensitive and complex issues in a coordinated and focused way. It shows that with the right tools and attitudes we can move forward and build relationships and respect that will take us forward into a better future.