‘Lop-sided’ legacy Bill ‘equates officers to terrorists’
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has rejected the proposed draft of the Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill “in its entirety”.
Mark Lindsay, chair of the PFNI, said the draft Bill is “flawed”, “lop-sided, one-sided and massively unfair on the wider police family”.
It said it will not countenance a situation where the actions of men and women who served the community somehow equate with those who sought to murder them.
And it has also rejected the proposal of a “parallel police service” in the form of the new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), adding that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) should investigate all murders and all police misconduct matters.
During the Troubles, 302 officers were murdered by terrorists – 200 of which remain unsolved.
However, the Bill does not extend ‘parity of esteem’ to local police officers, which singles them out for investigation, according to the PFNI.
“The words ‘terrorist’ and ‘murder’ do not appear in the government consultation, and that speaks to a lack of objectivity and imbalance,” Mr Lindsay added.
“During the Troubles, police officers were responsible for 51 deaths, almost all of them lawful killings, and terrorists 3,251 deaths. Officers accounted for one per cent but that hasn’t prevented opponents orchestrating a vicious campaign against the reputations of the men and women who thwarted the terrorist and prevented anarchy.
“This draft Bill is rejected in its entirety. Far from finding a way of dealing with the issue, it delivers false hope to victims, runs the risk of retraumatising many people and serves to ‘weaponise’ the past.”
Mr Lindsay urged the Government to halt what he called a “ludicrous process” before it escalates into an ugly political arm-wrestle.
“We offer our opinion and advice to Ministers and urge them most sincerely to recognise the damage they would be inflicting on victims if they don’t close this exercise down immediately.
“We have said it before, and say it again, that we do not, and never will, condone law-breaking. There can be no exceptions. If the evidence is there, then the wrong-doers should be brought to justice. We are against amnesties for any group and that includes police and military personnel.”