The PSNI has been warned not to put soldiers in the same boat as terrorists, after announcing plans to re-examine all Troubles-related deaths in Northern Ireland.
The probe by the Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) will include the review of 302 killings carried by British soldiers as well as those carried out by loyalist and republican paramilitaries.
It had initially been reported that only soldiers were to be probed for their role in 238 fatal incidents. However the police dismissed the idea of what Tory MP Johnny Mercer described as a ‘witch hunt’.
Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, head of the PSNI’s legacy and justice department, said: “There is no new single probe or bespoke inquiry into deaths attributed to the British army. All Troubles-related deaths will be reviewed by LIB using the case sequencing model, which does not prioritise military cases. This is not a new decision.”
The Ulster Unionist Party’s justice spokesperson, Doug Beattie, said: “It is clear that some people need to be reminded that troops were deployed here as part of the lawful forces of the state and subject to military and civil law. Terrorist groups – in stark contrast - were illegal, self-appointed, accountable to no-one and committed crimes on a daily basis.
“There is absolutely no equivalence between the lawful forces of the state and terror gangs
“There must be no re-writing of history to diminish in any way the bravery shown by the RUC and army during the Troubles. They defeated the IRA, and deserve our thanks and respect, rather than to be vilified during the peace.”