Northern Ireland news

Amnesty for terrorists or police 'would be monstrous injustice'

British Army veterans at a rally in Belfast against what they allege is a legal witch-hunt against former security members who served during the Troubles
Michael McHugh, Press Association

Giving terrorists or police an amnesty from prosecution in Northern Ireland would be a "monstrous injustice", the Police Federation for Northern Ireland said.

Chairman Mark Lindsay said it would be "a disrespectful and a shameful act of betrayal" to link the names of officers with those of terrorists in the debate on legacy.

A total of 302 Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed and thousands injured during the 30-year conflict.

The British government is consulting on mechanisms to address the fallout from the past.

Proposals do not include a statute of limitations, lobbied for by British MPs, which would exempt soldiers and police from prosecution.

Mr Lindsay said: "Let me be clear: this organisation is totally opposed to any legislation which proposes an amnesty for any crime.

"That's any crime, whether committed by a police officer or terrorist from any side of the divide.

"Society must now decide whether the solution is a political solution or a criminal justice solution.

"If justice is to be done fairly, then society must move away from rumour, story-telling and political agenda and deal only with facts in law.

"It would be the most monstrous injustice to our murdered men and women if we were to accept some half-baked idea that resulted in the names of our colleagues being sacrificed for the sake of political expediency.

"That would be the ultimate insult."

Mr Lindsay was addressing more than 100 delegates at the PFNI's annual conference.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said it was almost four years since measures addressing the past had been agreed on by politicians and the government.

He said: "None of us are above the law but my concern is...the impression that is created is that there is a greater focus on the involvement of the police and the military during the period of the Troubles than there was on the terrorists.

"Of course over 90% of the deaths were caused by the various terrorist groups, both republican and loyalist, so I think there needs to be some sort of recalibration of the attention given to this.

"That is not to say that police or military personnel who acted outside of the law, that that should be ignored.

"No one is above the law, but I think the provisions in the legislation could enable us to get to the point where there is more of a sense of balance and proportionality and context around how we investigate and deal with the past."

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