London’s silence and reticence on legacy is — as we warned — being exploited by those who want to focus on claims against security forces

For months this newspaper has been urging the government to defend its essential retreat from the 2014 Stormont House legacy proposals.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 26th October 2020, 11:46 am
News Letter editorial

We warned it that the vacuum would be filled by those who want to put the plan back on track.

There has been at best silence from London, and even an apologetic insistence that it will soon outline a path forward.

Sure enough, in comes the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) today with fierce criticism of the government.

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How on earth is there still such reticence from ministers in explaining the disastrous shortcomings of the legacy plan, years after they were revealed — not least in this newspaper, by commentators, politicians, lawyers, victims, ex intelligence and security forces, churchmen and even ex terrorists?

It is remarkable that Simon Hoare, chair of NIAC, can issue the comments that he does today (in an interim report on legacy) either not realising or caring that the sorts of thing he says about profound “ethical and human rights issues” raised the UK’s latest approach will be seized upon by republicans.

The government earlier this month actually said sorry for its delay in making a decision on a Pat Finucane inquiry, yet millions have been spent on that one murder when so many others need scrutiny. This is because the UK has failed abjectly to explain that there are other considerations beyond Article Two of the human rights convention (which is being cited endlessly to justify the focus on allegations against the state).

Ministers have failed repeatedly to speak bluntly about a scandal in which soldiers face homicide trials for single shootings while IRA leaders do not, in which police alone faced misconduct probes, and in which tens of millions are earmarked for sub criminal investigations into security forces when almost no such inquiries are planned into terrorists.

Mr Hoare makes a reference to Dublin as if that balances his comments. It doesn’t.

If inquiries are the way forward then the UK must order, among many other probes into terror, one into Irish refusal to extradite terrorists over decades.

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Alistair Bushe