Arlene Foster is entirely right to stall on legacy inquests

Morning View
Morning View

If anything has become clear in recent months, it is that the DUP has been entirely right to stall on approving funding for the so-called legacy inquests.

These are inquests into Troubles deaths in which the state is to some extent alleged to have been culpable.

The state is now being comprehensively investigated by various bodies for its failures in resisting the long terrorist campaign, when Britain upheld the rule of law via the courts, the RUC, the UDR, the British Army and the intelligence services.

Ordinarily, it would be essential to investigate the failures by the state. The problem is that massacres by the largest of the terrorist groups, the Provisional IRA, seem to be barely investigated – unless someone discovers a state failure preventing or investigating the massacre. Between 2007 and 2014, On The Run letters were quietly distributed to IRA fugitives. Meanwhile, Kieran Conway talks openly of his IRA past.

This is an increasingly alarming state of affairs. As the Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliott, has said, the families of the IRA atrocity at Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday in 1987 still have no justice. The bomb was one in a long list of attacks IRA mass murders, in which there is minimal prospect of prosecutions.

As Mr Elliott says, IRA massacres such as Teebane also need scrutiny. There were other IRA crimes against humanity, from Kingsmills to Bloody Friday to Shankill to Harrods.

Meanwhile, there is a mammoth police operation into Bloody Sunday in January 1972. Those killings of civilians were an outrage, but were carried out by soldiers who had been sent into a hostile and stressful situation. Four soldiers and four policemen had been killed in the preceding four weeks.

Arlene Foster at the weekend told the DUP conference: “We will not tolerate a situation where those who defended us during the Troubles are subjected to the brunt of scrutiny while the perpetrators watch on.”

The security forces who saved so many lives are certainly now subject to the brunt of the scrutiny, and it must not go on.