Ulster Unionists are right to be alarmed at latest on legacy

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Republicans were marching in Belfast yesterday.

The event appeared on the main late evening national BBC news last night, and was described in a way that made it sound as if it was a general event attended by a representative cross section of victims. If it had been, most of the people present would have been victims of republican terrorism.

The report then referred to legacy inquests, as if Troubles victims were suffering some mysterious delay, without any hint that most such inquests will be into victims of the state.

The BBC Northern Ireland report was entirely different and much more comprehensive while the national report was brief. But if the BBC national news thinks such an event important enough to be broadcast in a UK-wide bulletin, it needs to give a greater sense of its flavour, in which republican black flags were flying and people were carrying banners that had messages such as ‘Murdered by UFF/MI5’.

Sinn Fein is stepping up the rhetoric on the legacy of the Troubles. It had such success whipping up ill feeling over the Irish language that it has been little noticed that they were on the verge of getting funds for legacy inquests (quite aside from their alleged deal with London which would have ditched a statute of limitation for soldiers in legacy consultations).

This is all happening without any financial sum for how much inquests will soak up from the overall legacy funds.

It is reassuring to hear some voices speaking out against this madness. The former Ulster Unionst leader Lord Empey has picked up on a subtlety in the government’s language on the consultation. It is talking about how the structures will be implemented, not on whether they are worthwhile.

If this process ends in moral equivalence between IRA and state, as there is reason to fear it will, it will be a searing betrayal of terror victims, the security forces and the UK itself.

The Ulster Unionist Party is entirely right to oppose such a process.