Commons to debate Troubles probes after Assembly election

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan (left) with DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson at a protest rally in central London on Saturday
Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan (left) with DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson at a protest rally in central London on Saturday

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan has said he has secured a Westminster debate on legacy Troubles investigations to help bring the issue to a wider audience across the UK.

Speaking after attending a rally in London at the weekend, organised by a Northern Ireland veterans campaign group opposed to what they see as the harassment of soldiers who served during the Troubles, Mr Kinahan told the News Letter the debate will take place after the forthcoming Assembly elections.

On Saturday, more than 1,000 Northern Ireland veterans marched on Downing Street, where they presented a letter addressed to Prime Minister Theresa May that calls for an end to the prosecutions being brought against soldiers who served here during the Troubles.

Mr Kinahan is backing their campaign. He said: “We have got a playing field that is no longer level and we don’t seem to have anyone looking at it and protecting our security forces because there’s not just the Army – there’s the Ulster Defence Regiment, the RUC, the prison officers.

“We’ve got to get things right and get people round the table to change the laws. At the moment it is completely wrong that soldiers are being treated like terrorists. It almost looks as if there is a witch-hunt, just to pick on them and not focus on paramilitary terrorists themselves.

“There are over 3,000 unsolved murders in Northern Ireland. There are some huge ones that need to be investigated, like the bombing of the paratroopers in Warrenpoint.”

Mr Kinahan continued: “I think the figures everyone is getting is 90% of the bombings and the killings were by terrorists and yet we are not focusing on those. We are focusing on the security forces. We’ve got to get it back so that it is proportionate so that we do not make a soldier equal a terrorist. That is key.

“This is about getting this into the newspapers, getting to all the MPs, getting everyone involved and to let people see what is going on and that it is wrong.”

The MP for South Antrim added: “I’ve written to every lord and every member of Parliament. I’ve got a debate, which can’t be held until after our elections, which will be in the main chamber at Westminster which I’ll be leading.

“We’ve got Labour, Conservative, all sorts of cross-party support, and it is so that everyone has a chance to just stand up and speak.

“There may be one or two there who may not agree with us but I wanted to get a really good debate there so that we can really get in front of a mainland audience.”