Veteran rallies need support but political reform is also needed

editorial image

A military veterans’ protest will take place in Antrim tomorrow.

It is the latest public demonstration in Northern Ireland on behalf of the men and women who served in uniform in this Province and helped to prevent anarchy in the 1970s and 80s, but who are now bearing the brunt of legacy investigations.

And let there be no doubt that the security forces are indeed subject to a disproportionate focus of Troubles probes.

As this newspaper detailed recently, legacy directions from prosecutors to the police are overwhelmingly focused on allegations against the state. Meanwhile the Police Ombudsman is investigating historic allegations against the RUC.

Legacy inquests, most of which relate to state killings are under way, and many more are planned.

All of these investigators or investigatory departments are doing their jobs, so they are not the main problem. The problem is a deep-seated one, which must be over-hauled at government level.

It is an obvious scandal that elderly soldiers are facing trial for Troubles killings when no major IRA leader has faced historic charges in recent years.

The injustice of it is all the more evident at a time when the rest of the Britain is showing sympathy for Manchester and willing the authorities on in their efforts to stop terrorist mass murder, such as happened there on Monday and happened in Northern Ireland many times.

This is the part of the UK that knows most about terrorist mass murder.

The various demonstrations in favour of our brave veterans deserve wide public support. But much more important is political action.

Candidates now have a chance to make clear that they will not agree to the resumption of Stormont in the absence of the overhaul of the legacy processes that at present are focusing to a disgraceful extent on veterans.