Editorial: The victims' campaigner Kenny Donaldson is again right about legacy

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News Letter editorial on Tuesday November 21 2023:

Legal challenges get under way today into the government’s plans to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

But, as this newspaper has been saying for years, it is a misnomer to talk about the legacy of the Troubles. It is the legacy of terrorism.

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It is the legacy of Irish republican terrorists, in the long tradition of Irish republican terrorism, deciding in the late 1960s that they were not getting the political progress that they wanted and resorting to violence.

Even the Official IRA had realised it was futile by 1972, yet the terror went on and on and on until the Provisional IRA were allowed to come off their murder and mayhem at a time of their choosing a quarter of a century later. After that they have been appeased and appeased and appeased by UK governments. Even the handling of legacy by London has been motivated by fear of upsetting them.

Yet this newspaper has not been without sympathy for what the government has tried to do in the sense that if it is a choice between shutting down legacy and seeing the disgracefully unbalanced process of lopsided investigations into the security forces continue, while IRA leaders enjoy de facto amnesty, then of course the former is preferable.

But we nonetheless need to be clear what a victory this has been for republicans: that the UK faced a choice between its soldiers going to trial in disproportionate numbers and the RUC’s reputation being trashed in sub criminal probes, or shutting the process down, thus amnesty.

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There was no possibility of turning the tables on the terrorists, because no UK government would contemplate the fury that that would cause.

As is often the case, the inveterate campaigner for victims of terror, Kenny Donaldson, is right to say that the UK has at least been honourable and open in trying to end major investigations. The Irish state, which harboured terrorists for decades and has the nerve to threaten the UK with legal action, is allowed to get away with its failures with the regard to the past, and its moralising scolding of Britain.

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