The DUP intends to use veterans and the prosecution of veterans as an election tool, a leading Ulster Unionist politician has claimed.
Captain Doug Beattie MC, the outgoing MLA for Upper Bann, said: “On a number of occasions now I have heard them stand up and say Sinn Fein are only interested in putting former soldiers in the dock for incidents that happened over forty years ago.
“They may be right, but if that was the case why did they not raise it before, why wait for 10 years for it to suddenly become their battle cry.”
Mr Beattie said that many of the problems that led to legacy imbalances began when policing and justice powers were devolved to Stormont under the DUP’s watch.
He said: “So for the DUP to sit in their ivory tower now, in the mouth of an election and say this is news to them then I feel they are being both disingenuous or at worse lying to the public.
“For five years they have been the party running this country; controlling the executive with their Sinn Fein coalition partners. “All that time they never once raised the issue of soldiers possibly finding themselves in the docks due to troubles related incidents.”
Mr Beattie added: “I know why we are where we are, why soldiers now face prosecution for incidents over forty years ago because I have had experience of it. It can be found in the training regime for all those who deployed to Northern Ireland on Operation BANNER in the seventies and early eighties.
“They did not received the training required for such a complicated operating environment, they did not fully understand the politics of Northern Ireland, the history or the underlying problems that had created such a divisive and separated society. They were deployed by a government with no political plan and no military solution.
“Soldiers with weapons facing a brutal enemy who were fighting a bitter campaign with no regard to life or property.”