Lord Empey: ‘DUP should scrap legacy proposals and not subject ex security forces to fear of a knock on their door’

Lord Empey, seen above in the House of Lords on an earlier date, spoke in the chamber this evening in a debate on legacy
Lord Empey, seen above in the House of Lords on an earlier date, spoke in the chamber this evening in a debate on legacy

A former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has called on the DUP to withdraw its support for the legacy proposals.

Lord Empey made the plea this evening in a debate in the House of Lords brought by Lord Dannatt (Addressing the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with particular regard to the role of the security forces).

Lord Empey said: “On 19th December 2013, two senior DUP representatives, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Emma Little-Pengelly came to persuade my party to support their idea for investigation of the legacy of the ‘Troubles’.

“The Historical Investigations Unit was the centrepiece of their plan. They expected that it would give victims a better experience.

“These proposals became part of the Stormont House Agreement, and subsequently, on 28th September 2015, Sir Jeffrey said that: ‘The Stormont House Agreement provides a good deal for victims and survivors.’

“As my colleague Mike Nesbitt pointed out recently ‘the fatal flaw with the HIU is that it excludes far more victims than it is designed to include.

“‘It will investigate 1,700 out of 3,500 killings and none of the 47,000 people who were injured’.

“Jeffrey was wrong to include survivors as no survivor will have access to the HIU. Imagine if the chief constable said that the PSNI will only investigate crashes where someone was killed and ignore cases where six people suffered life changing injuries; there would rightly be uproar.

“The former justice minister, David Ford, made clear his assessment of the likely effectiveness of the HIU. And on 7th October 2015, in answer to the question on the likely prosecution rate of the HIU, he said: ‘The HIU might at best produce one or two prosecutions.’”

Lord Empey continued: “The government seems to be driven by a false interpretation of how to be compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention and have done nothing to challenge this.

“Most victims of these proposals see it as another payoff to Sinn Fein, to help them rewrite history and hound retired police officers and soldiers using records from Kew Gardens assisted by 300 investigators recruited to the HIU, which will become a parallel police force.

“Terrorists have no records and they will not tell the truth. The government’s commitment to release records is not matched by the Irish government, which reserves the right to redact documents.

“I call upon the Democratic Unionist Party to withdraw its support for these proposals and not subject those who loyally served the state to a decade of anxiety and anguish as they wait for a knock on their door.”

Speaking before the debate, Lord Empey said: “The treatment of former service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan will be like a picnic compared to what’s in store for former members of the security forces if these proposals are adopted.”