Victims of Troubles should not face fresh trauma with new inquiries, warns DUP

Investigating Northern Ireland’s violent past should not expose victims to fresh trauma, the DUP leader has said.

Outline proposals were agreed some years ago by the main Stormont political parties.

An Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) of independent detectives would probe unresolved killings for fresh evidential leads.

Arlene Foster said: “We will not support anything in legacy legislation that will damage innocent victims or cause them re-trauma.”

The HIU is intended to search for opportunities for fresh prosecutions.

But it would face challenges due to missed opportunities at the time to gather evidence, and the death of any witnesses.

Separate information recovery and oral history units would also attempt to cast more light on past events.

Mrs Foster told the DUP’s General Election manifesto launch in Belfast: “We are very clear that any HIU should not have the power to look at any non-criminal actions by former police officers.

“The (Police) Ombudsman does not have the power to do that. Why in heaven’s name would any unit that was constituted have the power to do that?

“At a very fundamental and basic level, why would we impose something on innocent victims which they did not support?”

General Election 2019
General Election 2019

She reiterated that 90% of those who died during 30 years of violence were killed by paramilitaries and said those cases should be prioritised.

At Westminster, some MPs have pressed for soldiers who served in Northern Ireland to be given immunity from prosecution but others are concerned it would set a precedent and allow former paramilitaries to also avoid legal action.

Former police officers in Northern Ireland have also expressed misgivings about proposed legacy mechanisms being considered by the Government.