The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has welcomed comments from the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“The comments from the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, will be welcomed by all those who want to see balance and fairness in dealing with the past.
“He is absolutely correct. The Army did indeed do ‘a remarkable job’ here in defeating a brutal terrorist campaign with great restraint and in the face of massive provocation. As I have stated previously, in the foreword to the legacy consultation process the Secretary of State says that legacy proposals must be ‘balanced, fair equitable and crucially, proportionate.’ For the sake of the dead and injured, and all those who bravely stood up to fight terrorism, we must hold her to that.
“I welcome General Sir Nick Carter’s statement that “It is right and proper that if our soldiers have done something wrong then they should clearly be investigated. We need to have standards; we need to have values that people are held against otherwise we will lose the moral high-ground.
“This is of great importance to me as a soldier, because I signed up to join the lawful Army of my country, to uphold the laws passed by Parliament and to adhere to both military discipline and the civil law. Where individuals – whether soldiers or civilians - have broken the law, then they should be made amenable to the law.
“There will also be a welcome for General Sir Nick Carter’s assertion that ‘what is fundamentally wrong though is if they’re chased by people who are making vexatious claims - and that will not happen on my watch.’
“The position we start from in Northern Ireland is one of imbalance. Terrorists have been able to avail of early release from prison, Royal Prerogatives of Mercy or Royal Pardons, and over 200 ‘letters of comfort’ by the Blair Government.
“Too many people have lost sight of the fact that 99 per cent of victims during the Troubles were due to terrorist action, and just 1 per cent of the 47,000 victims were due to the Police or Army. And unlike the security forces, every terrorist act was premeditated with unlawful death the intended outcome.
“It is also vital that in any study of the past we take account of context. In 1972 alone - the worst year of the Troubles in terms of deaths - 476 people lost their lives. The Police and Army struggled daily with murders, attempted murders plus multiple shootings and bombings, whilst at the same time trying to prevent future deaths.
“Unfortunately this is of no consequence to the politically driven cottage industry of well-funded and self-proclaimed human rights groups and lawyers determined to rewrite history and blame the State, not the terrorists for the Troubles.”