'˜Amnesty' needed to protect veterans says DUP

The DUP says it cannot be right that On-The-Run letters exist for terrorists yet no consideration is put in place to protect security force members from prosecution for events relating to the Troubles.

The party’s victims’ spokeswoman, South Belfast MP Emma Little Pengelly, was speaking the day after Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused the government of “bad faith” for planning to open a consultation on a ‘statute of limitations’ for members of the security forces.

The proposed ‘amnesty’ for soldiers and RUC was condemned by the UUP, SDLP, Alliance Party, Irish Government, Innocent Victims United (IVU) and Amnesty International, with a broad consensus that everyone guilty of offences during the Troubles should be held accountable. The Alliance Party and IVU felt that the proposal would reflect badly on the honour of the security forces. The DUP did not make any comment on Tuesday.

However Ms Little Pengelly told the News Letter on Wednesday that the party is fully behind the proposal. On November 1 she sponsored an Armed Forces Statute of Limitations Bill in Parliament, backed by Tory MPs.

“The Belfast Agreement fundamentally altered the operation of normal justice processes here in relation to troubles related cases,” she told the News Letter. “The early release of prisoners, significant funding and support for ex-prisoners integration, combined with the underhand ‘On-The-Run’ letters, designed to try and evade justice, has created an unfair and unbalanced approach.

“Those who did their duty protecting citizens in extremely difficult circumstances are now being hounded for operational decisions many decades after some of these events. It cannot be right that special provisions continue to exist for terrorists yet no consideration is put in place to recognise the particular circumstances of armed forces during the troubles.”

The “persecution” of the armed forces must end and proposals to ensure there a balanced approach to the past must be considered, she added.