Billy Hutchinson interview transcript about his victims

PUP leader 'Billy Hutchinson
PUP leader 'Billy Hutchinson

Billy Hutchinson has claimed that the News Letter misrepresented him by claiming that he had suggested his two murder victims had links to the IRA

To set the record straight, we are publishing the relevant part of the transcript of his interview with the News Letter:

Sam McBride: We’ve been talking a lot, I suppose, about the present and the future but obviously, you’ve alluded to your past, em, and your role in the Troubles, em, and Peter Robinson still gets asked about Clontibret and Gerry Adams as you alluded to there gets asked about photos of him wearing a beret in whatever year it was...

Billy Hutchinson: Yea.

SMcB: You, em, you pleaded guilty to murdering...

BH: Yea.

SMcB: ...or a role in murdering - I don’t think you actually fired the shots, em, in murdering two Catholic guys as they were walking down the Falls Road. When people come to judge what you’ve done in your life, I suppose, your career before politics, what on earth did that do to advance unionism?

BH: Well, I mean, you know, and what I’m not going to do is, Sam, I’m not going to try to justify what I do or what I didn’t do. I was involved in a conflict, ah, which in many ways was a political conflict. So from my point of view, you know, ah, I’m not going to try to justify my actions, ah, because there’s quite a lot of other people who haven’t, you know, and I wouldn’t try to. And the reason I wouldn’t try to justify my actions is because, ah, I wouldn’t expect middle class unionists to agree or to, you know, agree with what I did. But what I will say to you is: We’re not in a united Ireland. Now, you know, I regret every death in this society - every death. But the point is, I will not, ah, in any way, ah, diminish or try to take away from what I did in the past. Where I am in terms of now and where I was in terms of ceasefires; what I will say to you is that since 1995 I’ve been involved in the peace process, when I was a prisoner and was the leader of the UVF in that prison and therefore I’ve worked hard to bring peace to this society and I will continue to do that. But I won’t do it in a one-sided way or be involved in a one-sided way. You know, my past is my past. I will not deny it...

SMcB: Yea

BH: But what I will say to people is: judge me on what I have done since I’ve been released from prison, ah, and I think I’ve done quite a bit more than lots of people. Ah, I want to be positive in this society, certainly I do, and what I want to do is make sure that we build a future. But I want to build a future where working class Protestants and loyalists and unionists are involved, not one which excludes them.

SMcB: I mean, you’re saying there that middle class unionists maybe wouldn’t understand, I think if I’m paraphrasing roughly, but I mean...

BH: Wouldn’t agree.

SMcB: Wouldn’t agree, sorry. But the two people that you were involved in shooting; working class Catholics, I think one was a builder, walking to work - do you regret that? I mean when you look back at that...

BH: What I’m saying is that I regret every murder but let’s be very...

SMcB: But that’s your...

BH: But let’s be very clear - it’s very easy for you to say that.

SMcB: Yea.

BH: But what I will say to you is that I didn’t do anything without intelligence. So what I’m saying to you is that we need to be very careful about...because those people have family who are left and I don’t particularly want to get into that conversation, you know, in public. But my view is that I was fighting a war and I fought it and I can’t turn the clock back, ah, and you know, ah, my view was that the IRA left me with no option...

SMcB. Uh hum. To shoot those people?

BH: The IRA left me with no option to carry out the tactics we had. The IRA weren’t in the back of Land Rovers with uniforms on, ah, and the UVF had a very clear policy at one stage that they would drive the IRA out of the community. The strategy didn’t work. but it certainly drove them out later on whenever they started killing members of Sinn Fein and the IRA. So from that point of view, you know, I don’t want to really get into that.

SMcB: Yea.

BH: ...because I need to try to justify what I done.

SMcB: Yea.

BH: You know, ah, there’s quite a lot of people in government who murdered people, ah, so from that point of view, what I’m saying to you is: the past is the past; I’m quite happy to answer for my past; I spent 16 years in prison and, you know, I’ve done quite a lot of positive stuff.

SMcB: Yea.

BH: Now if people don’t want to recognise the positive stuff that I’ve done, that’s up to them. But I will not deny my past and I certainly have no regrets in terms of my past because I believe that I contributed to preventing a united Ireland, ah, and my future is: how do we do it politically?