CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENCE


  • Prosecutions against ex-servicemen Northern Ireland

    13 June 2018

    Dear Constituent

    Thank you for contacting me about the prosecution of soldiers who served under Operation Banner.
     
    I want to begin by repeating that which can never be said too many times: this Government will always salute the heroism and bravery of the soldiers and police officers who fought and died to protect the people of Northern Ireland and to uphold democracy and the rule of law. It is only due to the courageous efforts of our security forces that we have the relative peace and stability that Northern Ireland enjoys today.
     
    To be clear, although there has been an increased amount of coverage about Operation Banner, it is important to say that this is not a new investigation.  Police investigations are currently a matter for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), who act independently of Government. There is a department for prosecutions, a criminal process to go through and a police service that must be allowed to pursue its inquiries. As I am sure you will appreciate, I cannot therefore comment on any individual case.
     
    That said, the reality is that for too many people the legacy of the troubles continues to cast a dark shadow over the present. There is a widespread view that the current system of investigations in Northern Ireland is not working for anyone, not for soldiers, not for police officers and not for victims (a group which includes many soldiers and police officers as well). I am concerned that investigations focus disproportionately on former police officers and soldiers.  This is clearly wrong and does not reflect the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who served did so with great bravery and distinction and compiled fully with the law.
     
    Ninety per cent of the victims of the Troubles were as a consequence of terrorist interventions, so it vitally important that these cases are examined in a proportionate way. This is why the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, has set forward a new consultation, including a set of proposals, as agreed in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, which propose a way forward to address the legacy of the past. It is important to be clear however that this is not a final policy decision, but a consultation to ensure that everyone with an interest can have their say.
     
    In an area as sensitive as this, it is of the upmost importance that we recognise and listen to all views, which is why everyone with an interest in addressing the legacy question should have their say. Further details can be found at
    www.gov.uk/government/consultations/addressing-the-legacy-of-northern-irelands-past.
    The consultation closes on 10 September.
     
    To finish, I want offer my personal reassurance that the Government is deeply committed to doing all it can to show its support and admiration for veterans, and I very much hope you will contribute to the consultation. 
     
    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely



    Mel Stride

    MP for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General







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