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Truth Recovery in Northern IrelandCritically Interpreting the Past$
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Kirk Simpson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078620

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078620.001.0001

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Truth commissions and dealing with the past

Truth commissions and dealing with the past

Chapter:
(p.31) 2 Truth commissions and dealing with the past
Source:
Truth Recovery in Northern Ireland
Author(s):

Kirk Simpson

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719078620.003.0003

This chapter features an analysis of the flaws of truth commissions based on a detailed theoretical examination of the contested notions of ‘truth’, and the moral and political justification for the creation and implementation of the machinery of state-sponsored historical enquiry, in order that instructive lessons for critically interpreting the past in Northern Ireland might be learned. It also seeks to outline the ways in which ostensibly ‘objective’ legal discourse has colonised the truth and justice project in transitional societies. This supposedly impartial template is in some cases the product of subjective and calculated political reflection, and it has often been imposed and used in a cynical fashion by governments and policymakers to obscure the ways in which post-violence partisan political dynamics manipulate and distort the possibilities for the recovery of inclusive and diverse truth.

Keywords:   truth commission flaws, state-sponsored historical enquiry, Northern Ireland, transitional societies, partisan political dynamics

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