Doug Beattie is right: we need to see civil cases against terrorists

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Not a day goes by in which it is not clear that London should take radical action on legacy.

Terrorists have embarked on a wide ranging campaign not merely to legitimise their campaign of murder and blacken the record of the security forces but to use the levers of the state to do so.

The authorities face a tidal wave on legacy, ranging from civil cases to inquests for terrorists to a grossly disproportionate criminal focus on allegations against the state.

Some 30% of the PSNI legacy branch case load is state killings, when such killings were only 10% of the Troubles deaths, most of them legitimate. The PSNI has not moved to disprove claims that an even higher percentage than that of its active daily work is on state killings, so overwhelmed is it by investigations such as on Bloody Sunday.

The Stormont House Agreement is cited by its supporters as a way out of this scandal. Our series of essays on the legacy imbalance has raised grave concerns about those structures, which the government must at least try to explain or rebut if the legacy bill is to reach the statute books.

In the meantime, the Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie (see page 16) is to be supported for his call to see more civil legal cases taken against terrorists.

Given that the reputation of state forces is being trashed in probes that are decided on the balance of probabilities, then London must implement measures that ensure terrorists and, most of all, their leaders — guilty of decades of bloodshed — face the same.