All murders the same – TUV

TUV councillor Stephen Cooper
TUV councillor Stephen Cooper

Regarding Troubles-related killings as “some sort of special category of murder” is a major flaw of the peace process, a TUV councillor has claimed.

Comber councillor Stephen Cooper was responding to comments made by the outgoing chief constable that all Troubles-related murders should be investigated by an independent body rather than the PSNI.

The former UDR soldier said such crimes “should always be a police matter”.

Cllr Cooper added: “There is no difference between a murder committed before 1998 and one committed last week. Both are equally heinous. Both are morally and ethically wrong. Both leave grieving families and loved ones. Both deserve to be investigated by the police and those responsible brought to justice before the courts.”

He then referred to the 1981 IRA murder of 25-year-old RUC reservist John Proctor, whose killer was brought to justice seven months ago.

Cllr Cooper said: “Convictions such as the one for the murder of Constable Proctor prove that terrorists can be brought to justice even many years after the event.

“The relief of Constable Proctor’s family following the guilty verdict demonstrated that the vast majority of victims still long for a day in court and a time when they will see those who killed and maimed behind bars.”

Meanwhile, an Ulster Unionist MLA has said a report by the Police Ombudsman - concluding that senior RUC officers had failed a Cushendall-based sergeant murdered by terrorists - made “difficult reading”.

Former police reservist Ross Hussey said the family of Joe Campbell was “entitled to know the full truth of the circumstances” surrounding his murder .

However, he said, the case should be examined in the context of the time, and added: “Sergeant Campbell was one of 14 RUC officers murdered in 1977 at a time when the RUC strength was just over 5,200 officers who were hugely stretched in trying to prevent an all-out civil war.”