The first thing the UK should do on legacy is ascertain how scandal arose

News Letter editorial of Wednesday July 14 2021:

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 10:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 10:51 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Today the government will unveil its way forward on legacy.

It seems that a statute of limitations will be included.

In other words, an amnesty for everyone, from soldiers to terrorists.

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We will find out more later today.

This is the latest staging post in a long running scandal on legacy, in which investigations into the past have turned in a grossly disproportionate way against state forces that prevented civil war in Northern Ireland, after the Provisional IRA massively upped its campaign of terrorism in the early 1970s.

Almost before the UK embarks on any further historic investigations into the past, there ought to be a government review into how we ended up in this almost unbelievable situation, in which Sinn Fein — a party long accepted to have been inextricably linked to the IRA — has been able to be so shrill and aggressive and sanctimonious on legacy, when in fact so little is known about the details of the republican movement’s blood soaked past.

How we ended up with grossly disproportionate historic homicide charges against veterans, who were facing similar numbers of trials to republican terrorists, when state forces were responsible for 10% of the Troubles dead, most of which killings were lawful (thus security forces were culpable for at most 2% of those illegally killed during the long years of story).

The imbalance has many complex origins, including the fact that republicans have a fanatical interest in writing the story of the past and most decent folk do not.

Whatever the details of how we have ended here, the government has tipped into an amnesty to avoid more trials.

It is as yet unclear how terrorists and the Irish state, which harboured them, will face truth under the new plan.

It will be a grave failure if there is no process for close such scrutiny.

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