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Nesbitt cautions against offering undue sympathy to perpetrators of violence who are now wracked with guilt

Ulster Unionist Victims Spokesperson, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has cautioned against offering undue sympathy to those perpetrators who are now racked with guilt about their terrorist actions.

The Strangford MLA was reacting to news reports that some IRA members in South Armagh are privately seeking help to overcome their feeling of guilt for past actions.

“This is not a criticism of Ian Bothwell and his Crossfire Trust charity, but the fact is that there is a simple remedy – they should present themselves at the nearest PSNI station.

“As a Victims Commissioner, I had the horrific experience of hearing about a would-be perpetrator who approached his intended victim to confess that he had targeted him for murder over twenty years previously. The two men had been at school together, and the victim only survived because he happened to be standing chatting at a street corner, under a bright light when the perpetrator approached. The gunman waited, but the weight of the weapon in his pocket finally forced him to panic and he ran away. Twenty years on, he approached his victim and confessed. The net effect was that while the gunman found some comfort from his confession, the intended target was the one having nightmares, as he struggled to come to terms with the fact his ‘friend’ had actually tried to kill him.

“We cannot allow any displacement of emotion. If former terrorists are feeling like Lady Macbeth whose encouraged murder only to mutter ‘Out damn’d spot’ because her hands were blood-stained for the rest of her life, then that is simply a reflection of the human condition, and the inhumanity of their actions. Their only recourse is the rule of law.”

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