UUP leader: The plans to deal with the past appease the IRA and will be used to paint the security forces as villains

Robin Swann, seen addressing an Ulster Unionist event earlier this year, writes in the News Letter today: "It is beyond comprehension that this appeasement of republicanism is being contemplated"
Robin Swann, seen addressing an Ulster Unionist event earlier this year, writes in the News Letter today: "It is beyond comprehension that this appeasement of republicanism is being contemplated"

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

MORE ON LEGACY SCANDAL SERIES BELOW:

Introduction story: Time to stop the terror legacy scandal

Introductory editorial: Essays will examine a legacy bias that has become a scandal

Col Collins: Security forces must be protected from witch-hunt to appease IRA

William Matchett: Republican conspiracy nonsense has been indulged, the RUC trashed

Dr McGrattan: We are on verge of fostering a pro terrorist view of the past

Canon Ian Ellis: There is an immense difference between a bomber killed by his own bomb and his victim

Arthur Aughey: It is remarkable there is no planned historical commission on the past

Norman Baxter: There is a victim hierarchy with terror victims at the bottom

Danny Kinahan: Most MPs are unaware how one-sided the approach to the past has become

Ken Funston: Victims are alarmed at plans for past

Austen Morgan: SF wants to push on from OTRs to wherever it can in its Brit bashing

Victims should try to bring litigation to door of SF-IRA terrorists, says woman whose dad was murdered

Orange Order chief: Republicans relentlessly blacken security forces to re-write history

Neil Faris: A trap is being set for victims of terror

Neil Faris Part Two: It is unfair to shame ex police and not terrorists

Henry Patterson: Historical advisers would help put Troubles deaths in context

Trevor Ringland: Plans for past perpetuate a mess which favours dividers and terrorists

Kenny Donaldson: Victims of terror do not back plans to tackle past as they stand now

Maj-Gen Julian Thompson: Prosecution of elderly soldiers is monstrous

Kathryn Johnston: Six months after IRA murdered dad mum died of broken heart

Jim Nicholson: Perhaps Dublin will now help victims of terrorist torture

James Dingley: Useful idiots have let IRA put UK state on defensive over past

• Long read: Ben Lowry on how handing legacy to IRA is biggest scandal since WW2