Editorial: Unionists might not be able to stop legacy returning to an anti-state process but they can show their contempt for that

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News Letter editorial on Wednesday July 10 2024:

​This is a moment of deep peril for the legacy of terror. The full apparatus of the UK state had some years ago turned against the security forces who prevented civil war.

The last government tried, albeit clumsily, to stop the lopsided investigations against the police and army. It seemed to want to stop the outrageous prosecutions against veterans while doing nothing to upset Sinn Fein (eg put a focus on the IRA). But unionists failed to distinguish their opposition to the resulting Legacy Act from that of SF, and so even Ireland could cite this cross-party opposition when it sued the UK.

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Dublin has never faced a proposed structure that examines its role in the past – a state that refused to extradite IRA murderers over 30 years, thus facilitating the murder of border Protestants. But this Irish hypocrisy in suing the UK has not become a unionist rallying point. The last government asked awkward questions of Ireland over the action, but it was unclear what of substance it was doing against it. Now the new government is gushing about good relations with a Dublin establishment that has been no friend of Britain.

Suddenly Ireland is offering to help the Omagh inquiry. Why? It has stonewalled on investigations such as the Kingsmill massacre. Yet Hilary Benn on Sunday did not even condemn the Irish legal action when asked by this newspaper. Will there be a choreographed dropping of the Irish case once Dublin is sure that the old legacy approach resumes? The new Labour government wants inquests and civil actions back. Republicans want this too because such probes are overwhelmingly anti state.

One of the few things unionists can do now Dublin and London are in tandem is to make clear that this process has the contempt of all unionists. In normal times it would have the contempt of the political centre too, which was clear in its loathing of terror and its support for the security forces.​​​​​​