A spokesman for an umbrella group representing Troubles victims has accused the defence secretary of “gross naivety” over his call for a de facto blanket amnesty.
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, issued a strongly-worded statement in reaction to Gavin Williamson’s reported support for essentially staying all prosecutions for Troubles-era criminal violence.
He is just one of a number of top Tories who have called for a total amnesty in order to stop soldiers facing court over alleged crimes; for example in May 2017 Dr Julian Lewis MP, then-erstwhile chairman of the defence committee, had told the News Letter that “we owe it to our soldiers to pay that price”, adding: “I’d hope families would be big-hearted enough to accept that”.
At the time, Mr Donaldson hit back at Dr Lewis, saying he had shown “gross naivety” by proposing something which would benefit the IRA.
And in response to this latest development involving Mr Williamson, Mr Donaldson repeated the same criticism, adding: “Yes, it is true that terrorism has effectively been placated to a point where its operatives have a de facto amnesty – but that is not, and must not ever, be a reason to seek protections beyond the rule of law for members of the State’s security forces.”
He said there is no comparison between the actions of people who belonged to outlawed violent groups who behind the vast bulk of Troubles bloodshed, and the legally-accountable security forces.
He went on to add: “We have been clear that where individual members of the security forces engaged in criminal activity, breaching the code for which they were accountable to that they should also be held responsible under the law.”