Legacy imbalance against state forces needs radical remedy

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The head of UK armed forces, Sir Nick Carter, has praised the “extraordinarily amazing” work of the Army during the Troubles.

He said “we wouldn’t be in a position which we now” if not for the British Army.

Three cheers for that assessment.

Soldiers were working alongside the Royal Ulster Constabulary, one of the best police forces in modern history.

Together, while civil servants and the courts maintained public services, order and the rule of law, the police and army kept the peace amid a major terrorist threat.

Now much of the power of the state has turned against retired members of the security forces, several of whom await trials for disputed killings. Not only that, but numerous republican civil actions against the security forces are being funded by legal aid.

We know that while IRA leaders theoretically face trial, it won’t happen and there would be an outcry if they did.

Sir Nick said that he would “stamp” on “vexatious claims” against veterans. Stephen Farry, Alliance MLA, rightly replied that it was not up to Sir Nick to judge claims.

But it is up to the government to assess the legacy imbalance in Northern Ireland, which, it is increasingly clear, requires radical remedy, so that, as Dr Cillian McGrattan put it on these pages on Thursday, “supporters of a movement that killed 2,000 people” cease to find processes to deal with the past “easily negotiable,” while veterans fear trials.