Proposed new laws to prevent prosecutions against former British soldiers are aimed at covering up the slaughter of innocents, Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Raymond McCartney has said.
The Foyle MLA was commenting after British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that new measures were being prepared to prevent what he called the ‘vindictive’ prosecution of former state forces. These are believed to include strengthening the presumption of innocence for ex-soldiers and raising the legal threshold for prosecution.
“There is nothing vindictive about pursuing wrong-doing and criminality,” McCartney said.
“In contrast, the slaughter of innocents on Bloody Sunday, the Ballymurphy massacre, in Springhill, the New Lodge and in hundreds of other cases was vindictive and the 40 year cover-up of these crimes by the British state is entirely indefensible.
“That is what the British state really fears being exposed through legacy investigations of the conflict in Ireland. They aren’t concerned about individual squaddies being pursued through the courts, they are concerned about the state-sanctioned murder, repression and collusion being exposed.
“That is why we see the lie that the legacy process is skewed against state forces being repeated at the highest levels of government, including by the British Prime Minister herself.
“And that is why we see this latest attempt to create a two-tier justice system where former British combatants are effectively above the law.
“However, any attempt to introduce an amnesty for British forces who killed Irish citizens would undermine the proposed new legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House.
“No one should be above the law, all victims and survivors should have the same access to processes of truth and justice. There can be no immunity or impunity for British forces guilty of crime, collusion and murder in Ireland.
“The reality that British Forces got away with murder for over 40 years is itself criminal and attempts to further protect them is vindictive.”