Urgent action needed to rectify far-reaching legacy scandal

Morning View
Morning View

The superior officer of a soldier who faces prosecution over a 1974 Troubles death says that he will chain himself to Downing Street if Dennis Hutchings is jailed.

Paul Hearson was reacting to the decision to re-instate an attempted murder charge against Hutchings.

The case will run its course and we in no way seek to pre-empt that while at the same time applauding the spirit of Captain Hearson and his outspokenness.

A judge had ruled in a Co Armagh court in March that Hutchings should face only an attempted grievous bodily harm charge, but prosecutors re-instated the attempted murder charge for the shooting of civilian John Pat Cunningham.

Meanwhile, prosecutors are considering files in relation to soldiers over Bloody Sunday. And as we report today (see link below), at least a third of the dead of the legacy inquests, which London and unionists have been under immense pressure to fund, were terrorists.

At the same time, there is little sign of wide-ranging investigations into terrorist leaders who sought to destroy the UK.

That this should all be happening in the years after news of the On The Run scandal, which tried to subvert the rule of law to appease the IRA, makes the injustice all the more stark.

This is a massive and far-reaching scandal, that cannot be attributed to any one part of the criminal justice system.

As the outgoing Conservative MP Gerald Howarth has said, the Conservative government must intervene.

However, rushing into amnesties that will then lead to terrorist amnesties is just what the IRA wants to see happen.

It is the wrong approach. Instead, the whole apparatus of legacy needs a comprehensive review.

There needs to be a specific and detailed examination of why the wider authorities are finding it so difficult to get evidence against IRA leaders. Once that is established, substantial resources must be pumped into rectifying it.

Stormont must not be resumed in the absence of such.

Terrorists make-up over one third of slated Troubles inquest deaths