Apologies, Abuses and Dealing with the Past
Project Completion Date:
Prof Kieran McEvoy
Prof Anne-Marie McAlinden, Dr Anna Bryson
Other staff or partners
Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh, Professor Shadd Maruna and Dr Ashleigh McFeeters
The Apologies, Abuses and Dealing with the Past project investigates the importance of apologies in dealing with past harms related to the conflict, institutional child abuse and the banking crisis across the island of Ireland. The project focuses on public apologies for harms inflicted by paramilitaries, state actors, churches and the corporate sector. The team explores how these apologies have been crafted, delivered and received by victims and the general public; and how apologies factor in society’s national imagination and concepts of ethno-national identity. For victims, apologies frequently seem to be a significant aspect in dealing with the past. Nevertheless, the relationship between apologies and concepts like accountability, reconciliation, truth and legitimacy is little understood. Whilst ‘saying sorry’ is a general acknowledgement of hurt, there have been few endeavours to generate a rigorous and nuanced sense of what constitutes a legitimate apology and how the drafting, presentation and acceptance/rejection of such apologies may or may not contribute to reconciliation and coming to terms with past wrongs. By way of scrutinising the viewpoints of perpetrators, victims and the community, this project strives to deliver an inclusive and robust examination of the role of apologies in dealing with the past.