Kate Hoey’s bid to protect Northern Ireland veterans would resolve part of the legacy imbalance

News Letter editorial of Wednesday April 14 2021:

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 6:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 12:32 pm
News Letter editorial

One of the most disturbing aspects to the ongoing legacy scandal is that a Conservative and Unionist government in London is presiding over it.

On page 20 (of the print edition, see web link below), we reprint a speech by Baroness Hoey in which she tried to extend protections for overseas veterans to those who served in Ulster.

It was depressingly predictable that such an extension would not be automatic, in much the same way that the failure to extend the new flag policy to NI was predictable, as was the failure to secure compensation for victims of Libyan-IRA terror from frozen Libyan assets.

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In fact the whole legacy process is one of weakness and appeasement, including Tony Blair’s secret On the Run scheme.

It is said that in some influential circles in London there is a feeling that unionists who supported the Stormont House Agreement legacy structures helped create this problem. But the UK should have had its own extensive pool of advisors and lawyers to help establish its own red lines in those talks.

The nationalist view of the past and the Irish and Sinn Fein demands on legacy are the work of many hands on their side.

There is now a grave imbalance in how the past is being examined, including a very costly system of legacy inquests, which are mostly into killings in which the state is implicated.

These are in addition to the Bloody Sunday inquest, multiple UK-funded civil cases against UK forces, a welter of Police Ombudsman probes into the RUC, and various specific police investigations into allegations of past state wrongdoing,

Meanwhile, several low-ranking elderly soldiers face homicide trials and no terror leaders face the same.

Baroness Hoey’s amendment would only resolve one part of this scandal, albeit an important one. But London must make this process uncomfortable for republicans and Dublin, who are driving it.

Ireland has been lobbying against the UK before the Council of Europe on legacy yet British ministers are doing nothing in response, such as ordering a major investigation into Irish extradition refusals, which were such a help to IRA terrorists.

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Alistair Bushe