Former soldier ‘appalled’ over new jobs advertisement for Troubles legacy researchers

Military veterans have expressed concern at a PSNI recruitment campaign to hire Troubles legacy researchers.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th June 2021, 10:31 pm
Military veterans outside Belfast Crown Court during the trial of Soldiers A and C. Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The former soldiers said they had hoped the Northern Ireland justice system would re-evaluate its approach to prosecuting veterans following the collapse of the trial of two ex-Paras last month.

Identified only as Soldier A and Soldier C, the two men were formally acquitted of murdering Joe McCann at Belfast Crown Court after Mr Justice O’Hara said it was not legitimate to put evidence gathered in 1972 before the court “dressed up and freshened up with a new 2010 cover”.

One veteran who contacted the News Letter said he was “appalled” to read the job advertisement seeking staff to “further the endless investigation into what the security forces did or didn’t do during the Op Banner period”.

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He said: “The fact that the chief constable is prepared to invest in time and money on this now is in my view a disgrace.

“The records that these researchers will be looking at will only focus on the security forces – not on the terrorists as they have no records.

“Most veterans feel this is very unjust, unfair and wrong. For society to move on from all the hurt and damage caused by a long terrorist campaign a line needs to be drawn under legacy investigations.”

The former soldier added: “As society starts to recover from Covid-19 and the cost involved, most right thinking people would rather the money was spent on clearing the NHS operation backlog rather than on Troubles investigations.”

The legacy researcher role involves contributing “to servicing the needs of the Police Service of Northern Ireland/Crown Solicitor’s Office in relation to legacy inquests/legacy civil action and any other issue,” with a maximum salary of £26,000.

Paul Young of Justice for NI Veterans Original group said the job advert “does not inspire any further confidence” among veterans in relation to the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

He said: “Following on from the recent acquittal of Soldiers A and C... we had hoped that an outside judicial review would be forthcoming” with the recent prosecution decisions fully examined.

Mr Young added: “It would seem that the legacy assault on veterans is going to intensify rather than diminish because you can be certain that the only people to be researched will be the security forces.”

The PSNI responded: “There are 64 established posts within the PSNI’s Legacy Support Unit and of these, five are E01 level supervisors and 41 are researchers at E02 grade. In this current recruitment campaign for LSU, we are looking to fill four researcher vacancies.” The PSNI said the other 18 posts within LSU include members of the legal team, administrative support and other specialist roles.

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