Analysis: Arlene Foster is showing empathy with concerns about how the past is depicted, but the DUP leader gives no detail

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Arlene Foster, an IRA victim, is making clear in her article about legacy that she shares unionist concerns at how the Troubles are now being depicted.

Even so, perhaps the most significant aspect of the DUP leader’s article is what it does not say. She does not address concerns about the legacy structures agreed at Stormont House in 2014.

Ben Lowry, News Letter deputy editor, in the paper's Belfast office. 2017

Ben Lowry, News Letter deputy editor, in the paper's Belfast office. 2017

Mrs Foster mentions the Military Covenant and the wide victim definition, which suggests these might be DUP bargaining chips.

Her mention of a statute of limitations for ex service personnel will be popular in light of the controversy about soldier prosecutions. But Mrs Foster does not answer the charge that no such process is likely or perhaps even legally possible without parallel concessions to former terrorists.

The DUP leader does say the party will not agree to amnesty, but does not address the possibility that a de facto amnesty could result from a rush to stop security force trials.

Mrs Foster again says that her party will not allow the rewriting of history, and will instead push for a process that puts the focus on the terrorists who carried out 90% of killings. But she does not mention the separate legacy inquests, which will overwhelmingly be into state killings, that critics of the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) fear will be central to the republican bid to present history in a way that implies that the state was so murderous that the IRA was necessary.

Nor is there any reference to mounting concerns about the mooted Historic Investigations Unit (see Ken Funston here), and its ability to get justice for the victims of the group that by far murdered the most people, the IRA.

For those who believe that various recent developments in the wider criminal justice system have given weight to the view that SHA structures will struggle to ensure that the IRA faces the scrutiny that the state is certain to face, there is no reassurance in this platform piece.

It might be that Mrs Foster is not showing her hand ahead of negotiations.

Arlene Foster: As we deal with the past, we must focus on those who were behind the 90% of Troubles killings

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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