The British government has taken the important position that it is time to stop prosecuting cases linked to The Troubles and, for once, I agree.
For all the families who lost loved ones whether to shoot-to-kill by British operatives or an IRA bomb, the suffering is as deep and intense as it ever was. But the reality is that with the passage of time and court cases recently collapsing, it had become clear that justice through the courts was no longer a viable option.
Many witnesses have died, evidence has disappeared and convictions were going to prove incredibly difficult to obtain.
If the British are serious about a truth and justice commission to allow the families of the dead to tell the world what deep despair and pain they have endured it could be the best option.
It will afford an opportunity to bring the names of their loved ones forward and tell their story one more time.
The only alternative is to continue to seek prosecutions that will never happen as time goes by and memories fade.
It is an inevitable conclusion that what we were witnessing during The Troubles were two armies facing off in Britain’s last colonial heartland.
The British are essentially conceding the point that it was not terrorists against law-abiding soldiers but two armies on a darkling plain, one fighting for a free Ireland the other fighting to keep Northern Ireland British.
There is also a weary recognition in the move that thanks to families on both sides something else had to be done which is where the peace commission comes in.
There are many persons and political parties north and south on all political sides who have criticized this move and who claim there is no moral equivalency between their side and the other. Crimes are crimes they say and should never be forgotten.
If you want an example of disingenuousness consider this from the DUP’s new leader Jeffrey Donaldson
“There can be no equivalence between the soldier and police officer who served their country and those cowardly terrorists who hid behind masks and terrorized under the cover of darkness. We find any such attempted equivalence as offensive”.
No mention of shoot to kill, Loyalist and police collusion or Parachute regiments run amok. The people who were terrorizing after dark were far more likely to be death squads (Miami Showband Massacre) or Loyalist/RUC colluders (Loughinisland) - where a group of friends watching a soccer match were ruthlessly cut down
It is precisely this kind of craven kowtowing to one side that makes the British government move all the more timely.
There is equivalence, there is recognition of reality and we can only hope the truth commission helps bring closure.
That way we will never forget the victims but move on from the past as we must do.