Emma Little Pengelly: Our Commons Bill will try to end the witch hunt against soldiers

The Armed Forces (Statute of Limitations) Bill has been sponsored by a cross-party group of MPs
The Armed Forces (Statute of Limitations) Bill has been sponsored by a cross-party group of MPs

I was pleased to sponsor yesterday a House of Commons bill on armed forces protections, introduced by the Conservative member for Newbury, Richard Benyon MP, and to join with members from other parties in support of our armed forces.

Over the last number of years there has been a growing witch hunt against those who served so bravely in very difficult circumstances in Northern Ireland and across the world.

This must stop and I welcome this significant step forward yesterday.

This bill proposes the introduction of measures to end the persecution of our armed forces by introduction certain restrictions on when a case can be brought.

It also tackles the scourge of lawyers bringing forward exploitative and unnecessary litigation against our soldiers.

Some of those who have been at the forefront of attacking our armed forces and seeking new investigations are the very same people who carried out terrorist offences and who benefit from the special provisions put in place for paramilitaries under the Belfast Agreement.

The DUP strongly disagreed with those special provisions for paramilitaries but these, along with subsequent unilateral actions by the government such as ‘On The Run’ letters, created an unjust and inequitable situation with our armed forces significantly disadvantaged.

Those terrorists who went out with the intention of fear, murder and harm continue to benefit from special provisions while our armed forces who went out to maintain peace and protect citizens are now enduring historical investigations and persecution.

This cannot be allowed to continue.

This bill, which has been sponsored by a cross-party group of MPs including my colleague Jim Shannon, will help to create a fairer context and help recognise the invaluable role and sacrifice of our armed forces in the defence of our people in Northern Ireland and across the world.

Emma Little Pengelly, DUP MP, South Belfast