Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has urged the DUP to abandon its long held support for the Historical Investigation Unit (HIU), and recognise the inherent dangers in establishing a parallel police force which will inevitably target former members of the security forces.
Lord Empey said:
“It is six years since Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Emma Little Pengelly came to speak to the Ulster Unionist Party to advocate their proposals for an Historical Investigation Unit to follow up cases of murders which occurred during the troubles. They indicated that victims should have the right to justice for their loved ones and this method could help deliver that.
“Immediately upon hearing the proposals, we knew they were a major mistake and said so publicly. That has been our position all along. We could see that the HIU, which would be a parallel police force to the PSNI, with full police powers, but not accountable to the Policing Board, and with a budget of £150m for its first five years, would be used for a witch hunt of former members of the security forces. Only the state holds records, whereas the terrorists, who were responsible for 90% of killings, have no records. We also knew that very few if any convictions would be possible, due in part to the passage of time.
“Former Justice Minister, David Ford, made clear his belief that few victims would receive justice, maybe a handful at best.
“Today, Sir Jeffrey is saying that his party can have great influence in the new Parliament. He and his colleagues claim that they had great influence in the last Parliament. If that was so, why is it we are now sitting with a proposed border up the Irish Sea and no unionist veto?
“I appeal to the DUP to abandon the idea of a parallel police force to carry out such investigations. The DUP has now moved its position to have a UK wide body to do this. That is just as wrong as having it confined to Northern Ireland.
“Just as London took the DUP agreement to a regulatory border in the Irish Sea on 2nd October as the green light for adding a customs border as well a few days later, so they will take agreement of the HIU as an excuse to add on all the Sinn Fein demands and former members of the security forces will bear the brunt.
“I hope Jeffrey and Emma will now withdraw their support for this body. It will not lead to any justice for victims, but will be used as a battering ram by republicans to rewrite history. I don't understand why the DUP doesn't get that.”