Northern Ireland news

Police Federation rules out support for Troubles amnesty

Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said "what our colleagues did was right"

THE head of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland has ruled out support for a Troubles amnesty for security force members.

Mark Lindsay also said it would be "a shameful act of betrayal" to link the names of officers with members of paramilitary groups in the debate on legacy.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley launched a public consultation last month on new legacy arrangements based on mechanisms agreed during the 2014 Stormont House talks.

While a statute of limitations - which would effectively amount to an amnesty - is not among the proposals, some Conservative MPs have called for an end to investigations into former soldiers and police officers.

Addressing more than 100 delegates at the union's annual conference in Co Antrim, Mr Lindsay said members were "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," he said.

"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 received a standing ovation when he said "what our colleagues did was right. They must not be treated the same as the people who pulled the trigger or planted the bomb".

Read more: Allison Morris - Cause for reflection in hard-hitting comments (premium)

The federation chairman also launched a scathing attack on the office of the Police Ombudsman, saying: "Relations between this organisation and the PONI have never been worse.

"This is to be regretted, and until there is a willingness to better understand policing and apply common sense and a bit of understanding, that relationship will remain strained."

Responding, the Police Ombudsman's office said that on "almost weekly basis we publish investigative findings which demonstrate that willingness and understanding".

"However, we also publish findings where we have concerns about police conduct.

"Perhaps the Police Federation should show a willingness to better understand the nature of independent police oversight and those accountability structures."

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton, who attended the conference, said he "can understand some of what the chairman said but at a strategic level I respect the ombudsman has a job to do".

He added that "accountability is good for policing" but said the lack of oversight of the ombudsman could be considered in any future review.

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