Two anniversaries featured in today’s News Letter are poignant reminders of the lives lost to republican terrorists and that so many families of innocent victims continue to wait in vain for justice.
It is exactly 10 years since Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were gunned down by masked Real IRA gunmen outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim. They were two young men murdered in their prime of their lives as they waited to collect a pizza delivery. The killings are familiar to a younger generation in the Province who were not born early enough to remember the worst years of the Troubles but who will recall these two cold-blooded murders only too well.
The families of the two sappers are no closer to justice, nor indeed is the family of Lesley Dallas, a businessman gunned down along with two friends by the IRA exactly 30 years ago.
Mr Dallas and Sappers Azimkar and Quincey are among the 90 per cent of Troubles victims who lost their lives in terrorist murders yet the planned legacy inquests are largely to focus on killings in which the security forces are implicated. That is wholly unacceptable.
It was perhaps with this in mind yesterday that DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly asked Secretary of State Karen Bradley when she was going to establish a mechanism to probe the large number of unsolved murders and injuries at the hands of terrorist acts. The legacy inquest process will clearly not accomplish this.
Mrs Bradley faced a storm of criticism when she initially answered that “killings at the hands of the military and police were not crimes”. Of course no-one is above the law and all innocent victims deserve justice.
However, what is most unsavoury is Sinn Fein attempting to lecture Mrs Bradley. It is republicans who want the legacy inquests geared towards the state and it is republicans who still fail to come forward with the information that could bring closure to families like that of Lesley Dallas.