In the News Letter today, a four-part series of essays concludes by Neil Faris about legacy (‘Too much focus on state is an injustice to terror victims’).
Mr Faris, a lawyer, has been examining the legal obligation on Britain to investigate Troubles deaths at the hands of the state.
But Mr Faris challenges the notion that there needs to be a separate process of so-called legacy inquests.
The News Letter recently analysed the 94 deaths that are due to be examined in such inquests (and perhaps more, because requests for inquests are still being made). We found that at least 35 of the dead were terrorists. Mr Faris is concerned about the obvious injustice not only to the much larger number of terror victims, whose deaths will not get the same level of investigation, but to an even larger pool of people who were injured or whose property was destroyed by terrorists.
Mr Faris has raised important concerns about the possibility that legacy structures, including even a body such as the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (the body that is held up as the one that will bring balance to a process that is currently focusing to a disgraceful extent on state alleged wrongdoing) could – despite a efforts to make it balanced – be staffed by investigators who are insufficiently experienced in such situations to appreciate the pressured context in which the state was responding to large-scale terrorism.
These essays by Mr Faris reiterate something the News Letter has highlighted for months about legacy structures which Sinn Fein is demanding be installed (in other words the IRA’s political wing is confident about investigations of the past).
With such grave question marks over the legacy proposals, there ought to be no swift agreement on legacy, regardless of Friday’s results. The rest of the West is getting a taste of the terror we lived with for decades, and its citizens will not tolerate being murdered by known terrorists in the way people in Northern Ireland were murdered by known paramilitaries. Under no circumstances should we now initiate processes that have even a prospect of (inadvertently) suiting terrorists.