Doug Beattie: We outlined our fear to Theresa May that proposals to tackle legacy in Northern Ireland are not victim centred

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Robin Swann (left) and his party colleagues John Stewart (centre) and Doug Beattie arrive at Stormont for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May on  Wednesday February 6, 2019. They raised the legacy of the Troubles with her. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Robin Swann (left) and his party colleagues John Stewart (centre) and Doug Beattie arrive at Stormont for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday February 6, 2019. They raised the legacy of the Troubles with her. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
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During our meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday, one of the issues which the Ulster Unionist Party raised was the current state of play regarding legacy and dealing with the past.

The secretary of state confirmed that the consultation on legacy received nearly 17,000 responses, many very personal and harrowing stories.

Captain Doug Beattie MC MLA is Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesperson

Captain Doug Beattie MC MLA is Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesperson

I understand that many of the responses showed a lack of support for many of the legacy proposals, in particular for the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

It is now eight months since the consultation on legacy opened, and four months since it ended.

The UUP has been clear that we do not support the structures of the deal that was agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein at Stormont House, because it was not balanced, was not victim centred and simply would not work. Our position has not changed.

We told the prime minister that the proposals were problematic for us and we could not endorse them.

We stand by our criticisms of the HIU, and the other points we made in our submission — not least the fact that those families who received a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report deserve a proper investigation; those who were injured during the troubles should not be ignored; and the unacceptable nature of a system that is Northern Ireland fixed and which ignores those who were kidnapped in Northern Ireland, taken across the border to the Republic of Ireland and murdered there.

It would be a major mistake if the government and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) were to choose to ignore the fact that what was agreed as part of the Stormont House Agreement does not have sufficient public support, and to press ahead, rather than look to the alternatives brought forward by others, including the UUP.

Without a doubt Sinn Fein will try to use legacy as yet another red line to prevent or delay the restoration of Stormont, but in doing so, they will be using victims for their own political ends.

Likewise, if the DUP try to force through what they negotiated without the support of the people through this consultation, then the NIO and the Conservative government need to realise that such a course of action will not end well.

• Captain Doug Beattie MC MLA is Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesperson