The Public Prosecution Service is considering a range of charges including murder and attempted murder against eighteen soldiers regarding their involvement in ‘Bloody Sunday’.
Any decision to prosecute soldiers allegedly involved in Londonderry in 1972 again raises the question of a partisan approach.
Nine out of every Ten deaths in the Troubles were caused by paramilitaries yet the balance of investigations is disproportionately against former police officers and soldiers.
A one-sided approach only serves those who want to re-write the past. Those who foolishly welcomed the revised Saville Report and thought that would be the end of the matter have now had their answer. As I said at the time, it certainly would not be the end.
Earlier this week victims of the Claudy bombing called for the level of scrutiny and investigation into the Bloody Sunday killings a few miles away and a few months earlier to be applied to atrocities carried out by the IRA.
There has also been criticism from other victims at the proportion of legacy investigation branch officers devoted to investigating ‘Bloody Sunday’.
Whilst almost £200million has been spent investigating the events of 30th January 1972, there remain 3,000 unsolved murders across Northern Ireland, including those by the Provisional IRA in the days and weeks leading up to Bloody Sunday. What progress has been made on arresting those who were engaged in illegal terrorist activity at that time?
Two Police Officers were in a patrol car on part of the route of the march three days before Bloody Sunday and were murdered by the Provisional IRA. Is anyone being pursued in relation to that double murder or the other murders that occurred during the same period?
The Saville Report indicated that Martin McGuinness ‘probably’ was in possession of a sub machine gun around that time. He said at the Saville Inquiry that he was the 2IC of the IRA in Londonderry at the time, yet he was never questioned despite admitting being a senior member of the Provisional IRA at a time when that organisation was engaged in murder including those two police officers.
It is only natural that the public are outraged to see former soldiers who stood against the brutal terrorism now being hounded while many of those who hid behind balaclavas avoid justice.
The recent Defence Select Committee’s report “Investigation into Fatalities in Northern Ireland involving British Personnel” recommends Government bring forward a statute of limitations, following on from a debate led by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in Parliament earlier this year. Gavin Robinson also managed to secure Committee backing to extend such a proposal to include members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and other security personnel.
The last twenty years have been marred by the imbalance in treatment of those who terrorised our society compared to brave service personnel who ensured they would never succeed. Early release of prisoners, a maximum two year sentence for fresh terrorist convictions, odious On the Runs legislation and a secretive scheme to issue letters of immunity have all tarnished the process of justice.
Our troubled past can only be dealt with effectively in an honest and holistic manner, not the partisan way republicans would wish. We must ensure that the past cannot be rewritten. Government should go ahead and publish their draft legislation so the new Historical Investigations Unit can commence its work as soon as possible. We must do everything we can to assist innocent victims to obtain a measure of justice.