Ulster Unionists reject international police probe into security services – By Robin Swann


The Ulster Unionist Party has long been concerned that republicans are seeking to re-write history and produce a narrative of the Troubles whereby the State and its agents – the Police, the Army and the Intelligence services – are somehow portrayed as the ‘villains of the piece’, whilst the role of terrorists is downgraded to the point where their crimes are completely whitewashed.

Tens of thousands of brave men and women risked their lives to prevent Northern Ireland descending into civil war in the face of a vicious terrorist onslaught. They were mercilessly targeted on and off-duty, in their homes, in their work-places, driving buses, shopping with their families, working on family farms and businesses, even at places of worship.

Over 3,000 people lost their lives during the Troubles, 90% at the hands of terrorists, 10% as a result of the actions of State forces.

We must never forget that of that 10%, many were armed terrorists killed by the Police or Army as they attempted to commit serious criminal acts, including murder.

Soldiers and policemen are being dragged through the courts whilst those responsible for 90% of the deaths are able to avail of Royal Pardons and Letters of comfort, giving them a de facto amnesty.

Sinn Fein’s furious reaction to anyone highlighting the hypocrisy of its position in condemning the recent terrorist outrages in Manchester and London, given its refusal to condemn past IRA atrocities in the same cities, revealed that party’s duplicitous attitude to investigating the past.

When it comes to the actions of the Police, Army or Intelligence services, they want full disclosure, but when it comes to the actions of the IRA, we should all just move on and forget about it for the sake of ‘the peace process.’ They hide behind claims that the IRA has gone away. This simply has to stop. No other country in the world would stand for it, so why should we?

We have grave reservations about the creation of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), a de facto international parallel police force charged with investigating the past.

In Northern Ireland we already have an effective and professional police service in the form of the PSNI. They undertake all modern day policing activities with highly advanced police techniques and procedures and work closely with other forces throughout the British Isles and beyond.

So why are we being led into a situation where an international police force, working alongside the PSNI but very separate from it, in the shape of the HIU is being established?

The HIU could be staffed by 350 investigators, with the investigators recruited and seconded by the Director of the HIU from throughout the UK and Ireland; but could also include those with relevant experience from abroad, including mainland Europe and as far afield as South Africa.

Surely we would be better served by allocating the additional resources which are to be devoted to the HIU, to the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch?

I simply do not accept that there is any need for a parallel international police force operating alongside the PSNI to investigate UK citizens.

We have also been very disappointed by the lack of commitment demonstrated by the Irish Government in dealing with Legacy issues.

So far, the Irish Government`s commitments to disclosure and co-operation have been at best questionable and at worst could be perceived as being deliberately obstructive. If they want to build confidence, then this is not the way to do it.

We could however inject confidence by committing to establishing a pension for the innocent severely physically injured victims of the Troubles and finally addressing the definition of a victim. What we will not do, is permit the re-writing of history.


2 thoughts on “Ulster Unionists reject international police probe into security services – By Robin Swann

  1. For every war or call to arms in the cause of justice and freedom there has to be a cause and reason , So i refer Mr Swann and the Ulster Unionist party of a few facts of real history, (1) Northern Ireland as he refers to it was formed at the point of British guns and against the wishes of the majority of the Irish people and a portion of Ireland was turned into a protestant state for the protestant people , ( THE UNIONIST MANTRA ) were the nationalist / catholic people of the north were actively discriminated against in jobs, homes, education and medical support ,
    (2) It was not republicans or catholic nationalist who burned down their own homes in the 1930s , it was not Catholics who burned their own homes down in 1969 , it was not nationalist or Catholics who beat themselves up as they campaigned for civil rights in the 1960’s
    (3) It was not Catholics or nationalist who controlled the B’Specials or the RUC the armed wing of the unionist party and the orange order ,
    (4) Sunningdale agreement , Ulster Vanguard , Bill Craig, Harry West, David Trimble etc from the UUP supported by the uda uvf and elements of the RUC and all supported by their masters in the orange order who refused to support justice, equality and power shearing with / for nationalist at Stormont (1974).
    In 1969 , I stood at the top of Clonard street with a camera crew from Denmark and as I looked out across the city I had a clear view of the edifice of hate which was Stormont and the home of orange unionist British rule and swore that never again will the nationalist people be subjected to the institutional abuse and physical / paramilitary violence that was being meted out to our communities across the north because we dared demand our human and civil rights



  2. Robin Swann provides an interesting insight into current UUP thinking on legacy- what is proposed however is clearly legally a non starter, and does not appear to have been thought through.

    Robin states that “surely” it would be a better idea to not establish the SHA Historical Investigations Unit and instead pass its functions to the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch. The HIU functions however are to investigate unresolved cases, which include those involving the security forces, which cannot be lawfully undertaken by the PSNI. It is already provided for in domestic law that the PSNI is debarred from investigating complaints about RUC officers (unsurprisingly, given the PSNI is liable for the actions of the RUC) and the domestic courts have already held at first instance that the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch lacks the requisite independence required to investigate in relation to a case involving the military. The standard regarding independence is well established and any attempt to do this would simply end up in the courts.

    The post also presents the figure that the security forces were responsible for 10% of deaths (this refers to deaths directly attributable – it does not include collusion cases), and goes on to say “We must never forget that of that 10%, many were armed terrorists, killed by the Police or Army as they attempted to commit serious criminal acts, including murder.” It is not clear which study this assertion relies upon.

    The database created by Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (Ulster University and Minnesota Law School) using court records, newspapers and other open sources regarding 350 deaths at the hands of state actors (mostly the army) between 1969-1994 found that 63% of those killed were undisputedly unarmed at the time of death. 12% had been confirmed as being in possession of a weapon. Whilst these figures just deal with the issue of whether a persons was armed it is only an independent investigation that can reliably establish the circumstances of a death, this is meant to be the job of the HIU.

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