Victims’ concerns over new Troubles legacy legislation

A large swathe of Troubles victims will never support legislation that would protect terrorists from prosecution as well as former soldiers as intended, Innocent Victims United (IVU) has said.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 5:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:16 pm
SEFF director of services Kenny Donaldson. Picture: Colm O'Reilly/Press Eye

Spokesperson Kenny Donaldson said the IVU will not “endorse the lie” that there is any equivalence between lawful security forces and terrorist organisations.

As the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill progresses through Westminster, concerns have been raised that those responsible for terrorist atrocities in Northern Ireland would also be entitled to benefit from any time limits on prosecuting military veterans.

Although service in Northern Ireland is not included in the bill as it stands, the government has pledged to address the issue in further legislation to be drafted within months.

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“The UK Government, including defence, needs to tread very carefully on these issues,” Mr Donaldson said.

“They have presided over the manipulation of the criminal justice system, which is almost beyond recognition. The UK Government has bought off terrorism and its political annexes, but those who stood for right should not allow themselves to also become embroiled in that cesspit.

“We will never support any suite of proposals around the legacy of the past – which is actually the present for those directly impacted – which affords equation between terrorists and members of the security forces”.

Mr Donaldson said “We do not endorse the lie that the lawful organs of the state were combatants in a war alongside ‘non-state actors’.

The victims’ campaigner added: “Of course, veterans who have been investigated in the past and who have been found to have no case to answer should not continue to be persecuted.

“That is wrong and should cease, however, where a member of the security forces committed criminal activities, they should be held accountable for it.”

Mark Thompson of the Relatives for Justice group has concerns that former soldiers will be unduly protected. He said: “The UK Government should not be permitted to use its sovereignty to shield systemic wrongdoing through policy or by its policing, military or security service agencies in Britain, Ireland or elsewhere.

“They must be amenable before the law, not exempt from it.”

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