The government’s proposals on addressing the legacy of the Troubles are an “assault on the names, reputations and standing” of those who upheld the rule of law, the Police Federation (PFNI) has said.
As the five-month long consultation on the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) document concludes today, PFNI chairman Mark Lindsay describes the planned new ‘information and justice’ measures as a “monstrous circus” where “good names and reputations will be shredded” without justification.
Writing in today’s News Letter (see link below), Mr Lindsay emphatically states that the federation is totally opposed to what it brands a “ludicrous process” which attempts to equate terrorists with police officers.
“The sad truth is that these proposals will fail to deliver justice and closure to families, who will be given false expectation that by laying the blame at the feet of police officers they will get closure or convictions.
“It will simply fuel a legal industry feeding off the never-ending Legal Aid gravy-train, with former officers being vilified for doing their best in unprecedented circumstances.”
He goes on to say: “We simply ask for the principles of justice, which have evolved over hundreds of years, to apply equally to all. We oppose amnesty in any form.”
The NIO’s consultation process – Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past – was launched in May this year and had been due to conclude on September 10, however, the deadline was extended until today.
On Wednesday, Sinn Fein published its response to the consultation process, describing the UK state and security forces as the “main protagonist” in the Northern Ireland conflict.
The party also said the proposed investigation process – which includes a possible finding of ‘non-criminal police misconduct’ – must proceed unhindered.
Mr Lindsay said: “This draft Bill is rejected in its entirety.
“Far from finding a way of dealing with the issue, it delivers false hope to victims, runs the risk of re-traumatising many people and serves to ‘weaponise’ the past.
“The government has an opportunity to stop this ludicrous process in its tracks before it escalates into an ugly political arm-wrestle,” he said.
“We offer our opinion and advice to ministers and urge them most sincerely to recognise the damage they would be inflicting on victims if they don’t close this exercise down immediately.”
The federation chairman added: “The draft Bill is flawed. Assessed through tried and trusted justice principles, the PFNI rejects it in its entirety.”