Hyde Park funding is welcome, but should only be the beginning

Morning View
Morning View

The decision that legal aid is to be granted to relatives of the Hyde Park bomb massacre is excellent news.

Relatives of the four Royal Household Cavalrymen murdered in the July 1982 atrocity are launching a private legal action.

The previous refusal to grant legal aid was scandalous for a simple reason. Case after case is winding its way through the Northern Ireland courts, funded by legal aid, in which the security forces or government are being chased for damages.

In a number of legacy legal actions, there have been orders on the security forces to open files, often hugely time consuming and at great cost.

A gallery of dupes, who are not themselves supporters of republican terrorism but who think themselves to be fearless fighters for government openness, have added to the pressure on the authorities in such circumstances.

All the while, a narrative of a secretive British state gains credence. This narrative is fuelled by the thoroughly dishonest and truly secretive leaders of the IRA.

Not only is the imbalance a scandal, it will be troubling if Stormont is resumed in the absence of some clear counter-balancing as to how legacy is approached.

This will inevitably involve close scrutiny of the proposed Historical Investigations Unit, the one body that might shed some light on the IRA, to ensure that it too does not end up chasing ex security forces, who kept records, while, in the case of one IRA massacre after another, there is “insufficient evidence” to secure justice.

The Hyde Park decision is a small but important step in the re-balancing of the legacy scandal, but it should only be the beginning. Sinn Fein have put legacy front and centre of the political spotlight, which takes some nerve when you had inextricable links with the IRA when it was at its height.

If republicans demand full accountability of others, then they too must account.

Danny Kinahan: Legal aid for Hyde Park case should have been granted earlier