Ben Lowry: Westminster debate did not mention the legacy risk to ex RUC from police misconduct plan

The moment in the House of Commons when an amendment in favour of same sex marriage for Northern Ireland was passed by 383 votes to 73 votes. The DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson, second from right, and Gavin Robinson, right, were tellers against the amendment. July 9 2019. Legacy was also debated at length. Screengrab from Parliament TV
The moment in the House of Commons when an amendment in favour of same sex marriage for Northern Ireland was passed by 383 votes to 73 votes. The DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson, second from right, and Gavin Robinson, right, were tellers against the amendment. July 9 2019. Legacy was also debated at length. Screengrab from Parliament TV
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On Tuesday I was in Westminster, watching the debate on Northern Ireland which led to the overwhelming votes in favour of same sex marriage and abortion reform.

Those two divisions will have alarmed a lot of people here. Meanwhile, I was alarmed by the legacy aspects of the debate.

The government made clear it was sympathetic to Tory backbenchers who want to stop soldier prosecutions. DUP MPs also spoke extensively about the pursuit of Troubles veterans, and raised the failure to fully implement the military covenant in Northern Ireland.

This is all very well. But the proposed police misconduct element to the legacy structures was not mentioned during the several hours that I sat in the public gallery.

This then raises the possibility that Northern Ireland MPs will assist in measures to assist ex soldiers but acquiesce in the police misconduct element to the planned Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

The police misconduct element is set to investigate hundreds of accusations against ex RUC that might not stand up in a criminal court. Only RUC face such scrutiny. Soldiers who are alleged to have beaten people up or been heavy handed breaking down doors will not do so, nor will terrorists who maimed people in attacks (but failed in their aim of killing them).

Every time I mention this outrage I refer to the essay on it for our legacy scandal series by the lawyer Neil Faris (link to the article below).

Perhaps the government thinks it can placate the military lobby and then push the police misconduct element through, slightly modified.

If it does so without a comprehensive response to the concerns raised by Mr Faris and others, then it will have betrayed the RUC, which has an exemplary overall Troubles record, being responsible for a relatively small number of deaths.

The ex RUC are less influential than ex army and than apologists for terrorists but they will not be betrayed without that betrayal getting relentless coverage in this newspaper.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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• Neil Faris: It is inherently unfair that police can be shamed but not terrorists