There should be a formal probe into the legacy scandal

Morning View
Morning View

A law firm in Great Britain has suggested that a judge should look at the “processes and procedures” surrounding the prosecution of ex-security force personnel.

The BBC has quoted a lawyer saying that the review should address concern at the charges being levelled against former military men.

We agree that it might be helpful to investigate formally the scandal around legacy issues in Northern Ireland.

We do not believe that any one person, group of people or branch of the criminal justice system is responsible for what has happened. The issues are deep-seated and the problems go back many years.

A key part of the problem is that a British state acted with so much fairness during the Troubles and treated terrorists so lightly that they were often acquitted by courts and free to kill on a large scale and to perfect their methods of evading detection (something which the dissidents are also finessing).

It is alarming that the system has become so lopsided in its pursuit of the state for its past failures, which were comparatively small in number, and so unsuccessful in prosecuting terrorists, by far the largest group of which was the Provisional IRA.

If the problem, for example, is that historical criminal investigators have found it hard to find fresh evidence on the terrorist fanatics who brought this society to its knees, then some sort of formal investigation should be able to identify that factor.

The good news is that legacy inquests have not been fully agreed. This must not now happen without a parallel process that is likely to lead to prosecutions on a scale proportionate to the culpability of the various actors during the Troubles.

Only 10% of the deaths were at the hands of the security forces. But even that figure is misleadingly high, because so many of the state killings – such as of the IRA terrorists at Loughgall – were plainly justified.

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