Ulster Unionists reject NIO legacy proposals as ‘imbalanced’

The proposals put forward for dealing with Troubles legacy issues “will not provide truth or justice” and therefore cannot be supported, the Ulster Unionist Party has said.

In the party’s official response to the document published by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the UUP said the ideas being floated are “not balanced or fair” and will not “give a clear unbiased historical narrative” to aid reconciliation.

The UUP said the proposals will not 'give a clear unbiased historical narrative' to aid reconciliation

The UUP said the proposals will not 'give a clear unbiased historical narrative' to aid reconciliation

“We simply cannot stand by and permit the rewriting of history or the promotion of a narrative that at its core has the sole intent of undermining the State and the security forces, in order to suit a republican agenda and appease the IRA. The rule of law must not be sacrificed in times of peace to appease the terrorists and their apologists,” it said.

“We believe that the current system for dealing with the past is not working. Change is necessary but it must be an improvement...and also deliver what this society needs.

“We have serious concerns about a number of aspects of the legacy proposals. In our submission we also make reference to our concerns regarding the operation of the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval, Oral History Archive and the Implementation & Reconciliation Group, but our main concerns relate to the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).”

The UUP said the plan to investigate 1,700 fatalities, while ignoring the many thousands of victims who survived non-fatal terrorist attacks, was “shameful” and unfair.

“The proposed HIU will only examine 1,700 fatalities out of a total of over 3,500 deaths and will do nothing for the 47,000 victims who were injured as a result of terrorist activity. Incredibly and shamefully, none of the injured will be taken into account by the proposed HIU. Where else in the world would attempted murder not be seen as a serious crime worth investigating?”

The UUP response also takes issue with the proposal that all deaths at the hands of the security forces will be scrutinised, while only a fraction of the deaths caused by terrorists will be re-examined.

“HIU will re-examine every killing by British military personnel and members of law enforcement agencies. But it will not re-examine every killing where British military personnel and members of law enforcement agencies were the victims. It will however investigate ‘non-criminal police misconduct’ which is essentially a catch all clause and indeed it even has powers to go after former officers who are now dead!”

In summary, the Ulster Unionist said the party has “little or no confidence” that the proposed legacy arrangements will help achieve an approach to dealing with the past that will be ‘balanced, proportionate, transparent, fair and equitable’.

“Therefore we cannot support them,” the party added.