London has still not explained the imbalance on legacy of the Troubles

News Letter editorial on Thursday June 30 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The handling of the legacy of the Troubles looked as bad last night as it has done for several years.

The government bill on the matter, which will amount to a de facto amnesty for perpetrators of historic killings, was again examined by MPs.

They debated amendments to the controversial legacy plan.

Most of the amendments were rejected except for one, which drew cross party support, to exclude rape from the crimes covered by immunity. This sounds all very well, but we should think through the implications of such an amendment: it means that the perpetrator of a sexual offence will be pursued through the courts, rightly, but a murderer or even a mass murderer will never face charges.

It is bad enough that single murderers will benefit from an amnesty but truly sickening that the worst such killers — the calculating, multiple murderers — will do so.

The UK government has embarked on this plan because elderly soldiers were being put in the dock for shootings that happened half a century ago, almost all of which lacked pre-meditation. Yet thoroughly pre-meditated IRA murders are not leading to criminal conviction and sanction.

Why not? Why are mass murdering IRA terrorists who carried out decades of death and destruction, far more than anyone else and pushing this society almost into civil war, not facing trial but veterans who carried out single killings, that lacked pre-meditation, facing charges? This is a scandal that government ministers have not even come close to explaining. They should long ago have announced a detailed review into the reasons for the imbalance, and how it can be that IRA godfathers do not face the scrutiny that lowly soldiers face.

And the matter is not helped by the constant reportage that ‘all the political parties’ oppose the bill. This merely fuels the idea that unionists agree with Sinn Fein that the UK government is the villain of this situation. In fact the villain is the republican murder machine, and legacy processes which have failed so badly to scrutinise them.