Doug Beattie: The DUP must listen to the police and stop the proposed legacy unit that will destroy the reputation of the RUC
Last week at Westminster, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee received evidence from veteran RUC officers who stood on the front line to police our society through the worst of our Troubles.
Also in attendance were the representatives of the rank and file officers who are expected to police today’s society, in the form of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland.
The evidence was detailed, the knowledge deep and comprehensive, the analysis reflective and honest.
What was clear is that neither the Retired Police Officers Association nor the Police Federation NI had any faith in the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) cooked up by the DUP and Sinn Fein at Stormont House.
In fact, they were critical of all elements of the proposal as being unworkable and deeply biased.
In particular they highlighted the key point that evidence is unlikely to meet any modern evidential threshold, meaning that very few cases will be prosecuted.
Yet the proposed new charge of non criminal misconduct against RUC officers — even deceased officers — will allow reputations to be destroyed, even though no criminal offence has been committed.
The Ulster Unionist Party has been clear that it does not support the HIU, but instead believe that the resources proposed for this parallel police force should be directed towards the PSNI.
From there they should, like every other police force, investigate cases when new evidence is found.
This approach is supported by the Police Federation and the Retired Police Officers Association as well as a number of victims’ groups.
There can be no amnesty but there needs to be realism about what can be achieved in order to mitigate expectations.
Therefore I once again urge the DUP, to withdraw its support for the HIU and to join the Ulster Unionist Party in supporting the empowerment of the PSNI as the only police force in Northern Ireland.
• Doug Beattie MC is Ulster Unionist justice spokesperson and Upper Bann MLA
• See Morning View, opposite page
• Alex Kane returns next week