Belfast Telegraph

Tories pledge to oppose Troubles 'witch hunt' against ex-servicemen

By Michael McHugh

The Conservatives have said investigating the Troubles should not focus unfairly on members of the armed forces.

The Tory manifesto pledged to oppose any rewriting of history that could justify terrorism.

Some backbenchers in the last parliament had accused the authorities of a witch hunt against members of the security forces after charges were brought involving Troubles incidents.

The manifesto says: "A Conservative government will continue to work for the full implementation of the 2014 Stormont House and 2015 Fresh Start agreements.

"This includes new bodies for addressing the legacy of the past in fair, balanced and proportionate ways which do not unfairly focus on former members of the armed forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The immense contribution of the security forces during the Troubles should never be forgotten.

"We will reject any attempts to rewrite history which seek to justify or legitimise terrorism."

The Prime Minister visited the Balmoral Show last weekend as prosecutors ponder charging 18 British soldiers over involvement in the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry and said the past must be addressed fairly, while defending the independence of prosecutors.

Thirteen people died when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in 1972. A 14th person died later.

Prosecution of soldiers for Troubles killings has attracted criticism in some quarters from those opposed to dragging elderly ex-servicemen through the courts.

Earlier this year, a pro-military rally was organised by Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans to highlight what it alleges is a legal witch hunt against former security members who served during the Troubles.

However, five times more prosecutions have been pursued against alleged paramilitaries than soldiers in the last five years, the Public Prosecution Service has said.

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