DUP must ‘reject in entirety’ the new HIU proposals: Doug Beattie
A DUP commitment to oppose the investigation of RUC members for ‘non criminal conduct’ does not go far enough, rival unionists have said.
On Thursday, DUP leader Arlene Foster moved to address fears that proposed new investigative powers would lead to the unfair treatment of former police officers.
Government proposals on Troubles legacy issues include the creation of a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) with full police powers, including the ability to pursue ex-RUC personnel for ‘non criminal police misconduct’ – previously described by the NI Police Federation as “the new collusion” concept with no legal definition.
Speaking at the DUP’s election manifesto launch in Belfast, Mrs Foster said: “We are very clear that any historical investigations unit should not have the power to look at non criminal actions by former police officers.
“The ombudsman does not have the power to do that, why in heaven’s name would any unit that was constructed have the power to do that?”
In response, Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “Having finally woken up to the injustice inherent in the charge of non criminal police misconduct, they must go further and withdraw support for the HIU now, and tell the electorate that any DUP MPs will go to Westminster and vote against the HIU in its entirety.”
There had been long-standing concern, including among contributors to the News Letter’s Legacy Scandal series of essays, that the DUP had not taken a tough enough line in opposing the new legacy proposals.
In a statement released on Friday, the DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the legacy of the Troubles must be dealt with in “an honest and holistic manner”.
He said: “Ninety percent of those who died during the Troubles were killed by paramilitaries yet the balance of investigations is disproportionately against former police officers and soldiers.
“A one-sided approach only serves those who want to re-write the past and glorify terrorism.
“Our troubled past can only be dealt with effectively in an honest and holistic manner, not the partial way republicans would wish.”
Sir Jeffrey added: “We have made clear to the Government that without changes to the legacy proposals and specifically to the proposed Historical Investigations Unit, we will oppose any attempts to force through these measures in Parliament.
“The Democratic Unionist Party will not support any measures that are one-sided and unfair to those who defended us through the most difficult days in our Province.”
However, Mr Beattie said Mrs Foster’s pledge on the HIU stopped short of addressing what he called “a litany of proposals that the DUP should also now reject immediately”.
He said: “Finally the penny has dropped with the DUP and they have decided they will not support the element of the Historical Inquiries Unit relating to non-criminal police misconduct.
“They did so under pressure from the Ulster Unionist Party and they did so because the people were angry with their stance and this is how they think they can secure votes.
“But it is not enough.”
Commenting on the plight of those injured during the Troubles, Mr Beattie said: “The HIU incorporates a litany of proposals that the DUP should also now reject immediately, not least the issue surrounding the treatment of the injured from all corners of our community.
“Those who lost limbs, were paralysed, left burned, blinded and psychologically damaged by a savage terrorist campaign will still not get an investigation – the reason? – because they did not die but survived instead. This is not right and will never be right.”