It is hard to mark Op Banner but stay silent on fate of army and RUC

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Organisers of a parade to mark the 50th anniversary of Operation Banner commencing have banned emblems in support of ‘Soldier F’.

The NI Veterans Association (NIVA) say tomorrow is a “day of commemoration” and not of protest. This is a thin distinction, given the shameful things that are happening now to appease terrorism and demonise the security forces, which go beyond any one trial.

When NIVA say it is “purely a day of commemoration and remembrance” it is only fair also to observe that widespread rage at how the narrative of the Troubles has been inverted is naturally going to be felt at an event to mark Op Banner. It is not easy to give thanks for the security forces, and at the same time stay quiet about what is happening to them.

NIVA say protest banners detract from what they are trying to do. But importantly they express “complete sympathy with all the other veterans’ organisations outraged with the witch hunt against our soldiers and police that served in Op Banner, and we believe a lot more can be done on that front”.

This is similar to the dilemma that loyal order bands feel about striking the right tone at the Apprentice Boys march in Londonderry, while venting support for the security forces.

As NIVA say, a lot more can be done. And it must be done.

Some people in Westminster think the legacy bill will fail there. If that means an end to the police misconduct outrage, in which only the RUC, who have an impeccable Troubles record, face such misconduct probes, then that is good.

But it is only a start. It is often said that if the legacy bill fails the status quo of disproportionate focus on state forces continues. An inquest yesterday made a finding on a soldier killing. We need now inquiries into terrorists that are also decided to the balance of probabilities civil standard, and not the harder criminal one of beyond all reasonable doubt.

A Tory government, propped up by the DUP, is in a position to make things uncomfortable for republicans, just as Dublin has made things uncomfortable for the UK on legacy.