The Ulster Unionist Party has given its most scathing assessment to date of the proposals to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.
Writing in today’s News Letter, the party leader Robin Swann warns of the “lasting negative impact” the plans will have if they go ahead.
Commenting on the mooted structures to examine the past, which are out to public consultation until October 5, Mr Swann MLA says: “They will be used as part of a scurrilous attempt to rewrite the history of the Troubles and paint the IRA as a force for good and the police, army, security services and the law abiding majority who opposed them, as the villains of the piece.”
Mr Swann details his party’s withering appraisal of the structures, which were agreed in outline at the Stormont House talks in 2014, in a contribution to this newspaper’s Stop The Legacy Scandal campaign (see below).
The series, which has included essays by police and military leaders, lawyers, academics, commentators and victims of terrorism, has been examining the way in which UK state money and state bodies have turned against state forces who prevented civil war during the Troubles.
Mr Swann writes: “It is beyond comprehension that this appeasement of republicanism is being contemplated.”
He describes as “particularly despicable” a proposal to enable the planned Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) “to entrap former RUC/PSNI officers and destroy their reputation even if they are not guilty of any criminal offence. It is called ‘non-criminal police misconduct’”.
He adds: “Obviously no similar sanction exists for former terrorists, ensuring that HIU’s ‘investigatory function’ will be directed against those who sought to hold the line against terrorism and meaning that the scales of justice are weighted even more heavily against the state’s forces.”
While the UUP has repeatedly reiterated recently that it did not agree to the Stormont House proposals on legacy, the force of UUP opposition revealed today underscores the near silence that there has been in defence of the legacy proposals, outside of nationalist parties, Alliance, and public figures who have urged their implementation.
“It was the DUP who tried to sell these proposals to us back in 2013. We told them then that they were unacceptable and that remains our position,” Mr Swann says. He urges the party to withdraw its support for the HIU.
• Mr Swann’s essay is in our print edition and will be put online much later on Saturday
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