Open letter plea to political election candidates: state where you stand on the legacy witch hunt

The closing stages of the talks that led to the Stormon House Agreement, December 23 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
The closing stages of the talks that led to the Stormon House Agreement, December 23 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
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An open letter to all politicians and parties standing in Northern Ireland in the general election:

We the undersigned represent a wide range of individuals and groups within Northern Ireland, being either civilian, police, prison service or military veterans who resisted the campaign of terrorism which was conducted here against civil society over a period of more than 30 years – or else victims of that terrorism and their families.

There are many of us; and we all intend to vote.

We note with regret the manner in which so-called ‘legacy issues’ have been handled to date and we now call upon all individual candidates and all political parties to state without equivocation their stance on the issue of the draft legislation arising from the Stormont House Agreement (SHA), pictured.

In particular we call upon all parties to express their clear opposition to the proposed creation of a ‘Historical Investigations Unit’ (HIU). We believe this proposal will:

• create false expectations of long-delayed justice for victims of crime;

• create new victims and re-victimise existing ones in relation to trauma;

• undermine centuries of successful development of the rule of law by introducing arbitrary and capricious official opinions as a substitute for due process and judicial decisions;

• breach numerous articles of the European Convention on Human Rights; and

• facilitate a huge and expensive exercise in scapegoating those who worked to protect society whilst ignoring the perpetrators of violence.

We will not countenance the perpetuation of what we see as a witch hunt – a witch hunt which is clearly designed to assist those who seek to re-write the history of the last 50 years in order to deflect attention from their heinous crimes, to justify terrorism and to blame others for the ensuing misery.

We welcome the references in the manifestos of two of our main political parties to their concerns about the HIU. We now call upon all parties to repudiate the concept of any quasi-judicial definition of ‘collusion’.

The law already provides for the investigation and punishment of conspiracy to murder, perverting the course of justice and all other associated crimes.

Yet another new definition will only serve to perpetuate the myth of collusion — the greatest piece of ‘fake news’ to hit Northern Ireland.

Candidates and all political parties – where do you stand? Are you for justice or are you for continuing the witch hunt?

Signed,

County Armagh Phoenix Group (Police, Military &Prison Officers Support); Decorum NI (Police, Armed Forces, Prison Service & Families Support); Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR); Innocent Victims United (An umbrella organisation for 23 support groups, supporting in excess of 11,500 individual victims/survivors); Mourne Action for Survivors of Terrorism (MAST); Mid-Ulster Victims Empowerment Project (MUVE); Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association (NIRPOA); Northern Ireland Retired Prison Officers Fellowship; Northern Ireland Prison Service Central Benevolent Fundl; Out of the Shadows Group; RUC GC Association; RUC GC Parents’ Association; South East Fermanagh Foundation; South & East Tyrone Welfare Support Group (Police, Military & Prison Officers Support); Ulster Human Rights Watch; Wounded Police & Families Association