'Poisonous Legacies' Report

31 August 2013

The Poisonous Legacies conference was organised by the Bloody Sunday Trust and the Pat Finucane Centre for Human Rights to mark the third anniversary of publication of the Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. It was held in Derry’s Guildhall, where the Inquiry – chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate – had sat gathering evidence between April 1998 and November 2004.

The Poisonous Legacies conference was part of the City of Culture 2013 programme and sought to contribute to Culture Company 2013’s commitment to provide purposeful inquiry, as well as joyous celebration. The free event – on June 14th and 15th 2013 – was open to all and attracted a large audience.

Participants set out to explore how conflict zones in Ireland and elsewhere could be transformed into peaceful new societies. The conference drew together an international cast of academics, journalists and activists who were eager to exchange ideas and share experiences. Presentations and workshops were prepared to examine the impact of conflict and colonialism in various parts of the world including the Middle East, Colombia, Argentina, Chechnya, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

On the agenda were relevant but sensitive issues such as collusion and cover-up; torture and counter-insurgency methods; prosecution and amnesty; truth recovery; and memorials and commemoration.

Outlining the organisers’ objectives before the conference opened, Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said they hoped it would contribute to the process of peace-building in Ireland and elsewhere. He said it was their ambition that the sharing and exchange of ideas, about some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, would help people from Ireland and beyond to shape a better future.

The international dimension was further recognised in the conference’s optimistic strapline – ‘Otro mundo es posible’ – another world is possible.

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