Arlene Foster: Republicans must not be allowed to shift blame

The scene of the Enniskillen bomb seconds after the blast
The scene of the Enniskillen bomb seconds after the blast

We have witnessed over the last decade a deliberate and malignant attempt by republicans to re-shape the understanding of the events of the Troubles for future generations.

We have three basic principles on the past. There must be no amnesty for wrongdoers. There must be no rewriting of the past and there must always be help for victims to get justice.

First Minster Arlene Foster in her office at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

First Minster Arlene Foster in her office at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Republicans wish to distance themselves from some of the most horrific terrorist atrocities. They don’t want to be reminded of their evil deeds. We must ensure that attempts to move the blame for these events on to others are not successful.

Facts are the antidote to such cynical ruses. I welcome the Secretary of State’s speech.

She was right to highlight that republican terrorists were responsible for 60 per cent of the deaths during the troubles, loyalist terrorists 30 per cent whilst 10 per cent of deaths were attributable to the state.

To put this in further perspective, republican paramilitaries killed a greater number of Catholics than the total number of deaths attributable to the state.

These are the facts. They are what they are: indisputable. Over recent weeks you could also be forgiven for believing that every atrocity carried out by PIRA is now the fault of the state.

Either though the work of agents or supposed inaction by the police to prevent their evil intentions. It was terrorists who planted the bombs in Enniskillen, Warrenpoint, Ballygawley, La Mon and Canary Wharf.

Sinn Fein has demanded full disclosure of issues which might even impact on issues of national security. Full disclosure is demanded in the knowledge that terrorist groups will never provide any such disclosure of their own activities.

A one-sided approach to the past will not work. Whilst terrorists want to pore over documents relating to the actions of police officers and soldiers, the victims of republican terrorists are forced to rely on the goodwill of people who won’t even admit they were in the IRA, to tell the truth about the terrorism inflicted upon them.

The men and women who served during the darkest days of the Troubles whether in the army or the police: people like my dad, are so vastly superior to those who skulked around in ditches and behind hedges.

It should go without saying, but we have to keep saying it because truth and memory are under assault.

I will resist any attempt to malign their memory or impugn their integrity. I will not allow a rewriting of the past. The Northern Ireland Troubles were a battle between right and wrong.

Between those (of whatever hue or stripe) that would use armed force to further their ends and those who stood in their way.

The men and women of the Army and the police were fighting for the right.

We must never forget that.

Arlene Foster is leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland

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