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Legacy Issues

Volume 551: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2012

8. What further steps she plans to take following the initial round of talks with Northern Ireland party leaders aimed at finding consensus on dealing with the past and its legacy. (123809)

It is important to find a way to deal with the legacy of the past in an inclusive way that recognises the pain caused to victims and survivors while helping everyone in Northern Ireland move forward towards a genuinely shared future. A way forward can be delivered only if a wide range of people and political parties in Northern Ireland work together to build consensus.

I, too, welcome the Secretary of State and her ministerial colleague to their new roles. Does she agree that finding an agreed and comprehensive way of addressing the legacy of the past is critical and should be a priority not only because of the current generation, who were impacted on directly by the troubles, but as a means of tackling the deep-seated sectarianism that still exists in Northern Ireland and prevents us from achieving our objectives financially, economically and socially?

I agree that that is an important priority and pay tribute to the work of the hon. Lady and her party on this matter. It is important for us all to work together to see whether we can build consensus and foster mutual understanding of the past, reconciling the different perspectives of the past in the different traditions in Northern Ireland. As she says, our goals should be to bring people together and try to eliminate the sectarian divides that still exist.