Robin Swann: The legacy imbalance against the security forces will be even worse under HIU

I welcome the fact that the government has now decided to launch the long awaited legacy consultation and urge the public to take this opportunity to have their say.

The Army, the RUC and the state are more vulnerable to the legacy structures because they have records, whereas terrorists have none
The Army, the RUC and the state are more vulnerable to the legacy structures because they have records, whereas terrorists have none

There is no question that the current methods of dealing with the past are imbalanced, unfair and piecemeal, but nobody should be in any doubt that the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (HIU)— the brainchild of DUP negotiators — has the potential to make things much worse.

It will be a parallel police force under the direction of an independent director, with the same powers as the PSNI in terms of arrest and investigation, but we believe it will target its activities against former soldiers and police officers.

This is inevitable, because the state, the RUC and the Army all have historical operational archives and records that the HIU can freely access, whereas no equivalent files are held by the terrorist groups.

The Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann MLA. Pic Pacemaker

As a result, the HIU focus will fall on the police and the army.

Furthermore, it will only investigate deaths, so the tens of thousands of people who were injured —often very seriously — are forgotten. And nothing is to be done about the 15,000 explosions that were caused by terrorists — the vast majority the work of the Provisional IRA — during the Troubles.

The facts are that 90% of Troubles related deaths were due to terrorist activity – 60% at the hands of republicans and 30% the work of loyalists.

The remaining 10% of deaths were due to the security forces, but this is being ignored as part of a pernicious campaign to rewrite the history of the Troubles.

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I have warned the secretary of state about the inherent dangers of the HIU, and if the prime minister and the secretary of state are under the impression that current investigations are focused on members of the security forces, that will pale into insignificance if the HIU comes into operation.

The Ulster Unionist Party will be responding to this consultation because there is much in it that needs to be halted or amended.

I urge all victims of the Troubles, all former police officers and all former members of the UDR and regular army to respond to this consultation and to encourage other family members to do likewise.

It is essential that their voices are heard so that an already skewed process is not skewed any further.

Robin Swann, Ulster Unionist Party leader, North Antrim MLA