DUP declines to rule out SF demand for legacy inquests into state killings

The bullet riddled van in which eight IRA men were shot dead by the SAS outside Loughgall RUC station in 1987. Their relatives are suing for a legacy inqest to be held into the deaths. Picture by Pacemaker
The bullet riddled van in which eight IRA men were shot dead by the SAS outside Loughgall RUC station in 1987. Their relatives are suing for a legacy inqest to be held into the deaths. Picture by Pacemaker

The DUP has declined to rule out funding legacy inquests, which have become an increasingly controversial part of the legacy process.

The inquests are examining Troubles deaths at the hands of the state, such as killings by the Army or RUC.

Supporters of the inquests say they must be held under Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life.

Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, has said failure to hold the inquests would thwart the rule of law.

But there are mounting unionist fears that the inquests will be used to legitimise IRA terror and put police and soldiers on trial.

It was when files were forwarded to the Attorney General John Larkin on the shooting of an IRA killer Joe McCann, whose relatives wanted an inquest, that he forwarded it to prosecutors.

They charged two soldiers in their 60s with murder. An inquest into another shot IRA terrorist, Pearse Jordan, led to two retired RUC men being reported to prosecutors.

Relatives of IRA terrorists shot dead at Loughgall by the SAS in 1987 as they attacked a police station have begun a judicial review bid over the delay in their inquest.

The News Letter asked the DUP if it was willing to drop its opposition to funding for legacy inquests or if it was considering such a concession in talks with Sinn Fein.

The answer from a party spokesman declined to rule out inquest funding: “There has been an unfair and disproportionate focus on the actions of the state despite the fact that 90% of deaths during the troubles were caused by the criminal acts of terrorists.

This is unacceptable and our approach is to ensure a fairer and more equitable way of dealing with historic cases.

“The DUP does not support a piecemeal approach, but we want to see a comprehensive way of dealing with the past.

This must include the Historical Investigations Unit which is the central element of all the proposals around dealing with the past.”

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