Theresa May’s answer on Troubles probes ‘not good enough’: MP

Johnny Mercer in the House of Commons

Theresa May has faced demands to assure MPs about her personal efforts to end the “completely abhorrent” investigations of Northern Ireland military veterans.

Conservative former Army officer Johnny Mercer warned the “vast majority” of the country is against seeing former soldiers being “dragged through the courts” over events linked to the Troubles.

He later said Mrs May’s response was “not good enough” after she acknowledged the concerns and labelled the investigation process in Northern Ireland as “flawed” due to its “disproportionate focus” on former members of the armed forces and police.

The prime minister also acknowledged terrorist murders from the Troubles era are being investigated, having claimed earlier this year in the Commons that “terrorists are not being investigated”.

In July, more than 30 Tory MPs supported a back-bench proposal for a 20-year time limit on reopening cases involving former members of the armed forces who served in Northern Ireland.

Mr Mercer (Plymouth Moor View) said: “The prime minister will be aware not only of my feelings but of pretty much everyone in this House and the vast majority of this country when it comes to seeing our veterans being dragged through the courts in Northern Ireland to appease political differences.

“As prime minister can I ask what she is personally doing, how she is personally investing of herself in this process to bring to an end something the vast majority of her country finds completely abhorrent?”

Mrs May replied: “I’m well aware of the degree of concern there is about this issue, which is why I have held a number of discussions with (Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley) on the matter.

“We owe a vast debt of gratitude to the heroism and bravery of the soldiers and police officers who upheld the rule of law, and themselves were accountable to it - and that is always something that has set them apart from the terrorists, who during the Troubles were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of members of the security forces.

“But as I’ve made clear, the current system in Northern Ireland is flawed.

“It isn’t working for soldiers, for police officers or for victims - a group, in fact, which includes many soldiers and police officers as well.

“Though while a number of terrorist murders from the Troubles are actively under investigation by PSNI and other police forces, under the current mechanism for investigating the past there’s a disproportionate focus on former members of the armed forces and the police.

“We want to ensure all outstanding deaths in Northern Ireland are investigated in ways that are fair, balanced and proportionate.”

Writing on Twitter after PMQs, Mr Mercer said: “I know we are in rough waters, but this is some of our people’s ‘every-day’. Her answer was not good enough.”

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