Veterans group challenges ex-PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton’s claims on Troubles amnesty

A leading veterans’ organisation has challenged remarks from a former Chief Constable, that he has yet to meet an ex-police officer or soldier who wants a Troubles amnesty.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 9:59 am

Former PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton made his comments at the inaugural RUC GC Foundation lecture at Queen’s University last Thursday night.

Mr Hamilton, who retired from Northern Ireland’s top policing post in June 2019, said he believes the statute of limitations as suggested by the Secretary of State is “bonkers” and will “undermine the rule of law”.

He said: “Not shackled by the office of chief constable I can say... I have yet to meet one [military veteran], or one police officer, who would want an amnesty.”

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Ex-Chief Constable George Hamilton was speaking at QUB on Thursday.

However his claim has now been challenged by Paul Young, spokesman of the NI Veterans Movement (NIVM). Mr Young said he was “very surprised” to read the comments about the Secretary of State’s proposals on a statute of Limitation.

He told the News Letter: “The word amnesty is conveniently bandied about when referring to security forces but the actual description that applies to terrorists is immunity from prosecution. You cannot give something to someone who has already got it regardless of the wording you use.

“We in the veteran movement, which includes former police officers of which I am one, have always opposed amnesty. But the simple fact is that terrorists were given immunity from prosecution and no one will ever be prosecuted for their crimes.”

“He [Mr Hamilton] conveniently failed to mention that the republican movement has immunity from prosecution having been granted Royal pardons and letters of comfort. It has also been reported recently that no person in the Republic of Ireland will be prosecuted as terrorists have also been given immunity from prosecution in that jurisdiction.”

Appealing for a meeting with Mr Hamilton, he said the former Chief Constable “did not look very far” to find veterans who support the amnesty as there are “thousands”.

It is understood that many veterans in NI are opposed to an amnesty as they feel it would denigrate the reputation of the organisation they served with, while many veterans based in GB are much keener on the idea as they place a higher priority on removing the possibility of prosecution.

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