‘Time to shift focus of legacy investigations’

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP

Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said the focus of legacy investigations needs to shift away from the state towards paramilitaries.

Addressing a rally organised by the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group in London on Saturday, the DUP man said he shares the veterans’ concerns over “imbalance” when it comes to dealing with the past.

More than 1,000 veterans marched on Westminster in protest at what they view as the harassment of soldiers who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Legacy Investigation Branch is currently investigating more than 3,200 killings in the Province between 1969 and 2004. And Mr Donaldson says the government must take action to address the “imbalance” in how the past is dealt with and shift the focus of legacy investigations towards paramilitary terrorist organisations.

Speaking about the veteran’s campaign, he said: “I share their concern about the current process in Northern Ireland which seems to deal with legacy issues with an entire focus on what the state did. Recently we have seen a number of soldiers charged in relation to a number of alleged offences that occurred in some cases almost 40 years ago.

“These are men who are now retired, some of whom are in their 60s and 70s, and it is deeply unfair and unjust that they should now be pursued in relation to incidents that were previously fully investigated by the police at the time.

“We have over 3,000 unsolved murders in Northern Ireland, the vast majority of which were carried out by paramilitary terrorist organisations, and yet there is very little resource devoted towards investigating those murders.

“The MPs who spoke at the rally are all very clear – we want the government to act and to act now.”

The DUP MP continued: “I think that the government needs to look at the possibility of introducing a statute of limitations which would mean that cases involving the Armed Forces and police would not proceed if a certain time period had elapsed.”