Trevor Lunn: RUC and army in the main acted honourably in Troubles but if evidence of wrongdoing leads to trials then so be it

Soldiers in Northern Ireland during the Troubles
Soldiers in Northern Ireland during the Troubles

Recently, a Westminster committee recommended a statute of limitation on the investigation or prosecution of former British soldiers for murders committed during the Troubles.

The news will have been a major disappointment to victims and bereaved survivors of the conflict here.

RUC patrol in the border area in the 1980s.

RUC patrol in the border area in the 1980s.

Let me state from the outset I recognise the contribution of both the Army and the RUC over the years in Northern Ireland. They often stood between us and anarchy, and in the main conducted themselves honourably.

But this should not obscure the fact in some cases they fell short of the standards expected of them. Therefore if there is evidence showing people died as a result of actions carried out by soldiers or police officers outside the law, then it should be followed and the law applied. Even if it does concern members of the security forces.

Like many MLAs, I work with victims and groups supporting those bereaved during the Troubles. The families of the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre, for instance, have now been waiting 46 years to find out officially why the Army shot their loved ones, who did it and who ordered it.

They are just as entitled to justice as anyone else.

Trevor Lunn MLA.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Trevor Lunn MLA. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The argument that soldiers face more focus into their actions is a fallacy, as proven by statistics which show Army actions account for around a third of PSNI legacy investigations.

To tell victims, from all sections of our community, a line will be drawn at 1998 and nothing prior to that will be investigated flies in the face of the rule of law and we cannot allow it to happen. Murder is murder. The authorities must follow the evidence and if it leads to prosecutions, so be it.

What happens to those found guilty is a matter for the courts on a case by case basis. To not apply the normal rules of British justice is unacceptable, irrespective of when the crime occurred or who committed it.

• Trevor Lunn is an Alliance MLA for Lagan Valley