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DUP launches online pledge opposing 'witch hunt' of ex-security force members

The DUP has launched an online pledge urging people to oppose a "witch hunt" of former security force members.

Party leader Arlene Foster announced the initiative after a DUP-tabled Westminster debate on the issue on Thursday.

Unionist politicians and a number of Conservative MPs have alleged that ex-police and military personnel are being unfairly treated when it comes to the reinvestigation of Troubles incidents.

Prosecutors and police in Northern Ireland reject the claims, insisting they do not stand up to factual scrutiny.

The DUP has accused Sinn Fein of driving an agenda that wants to put as many soldiers in the dock as possible.

Republicans deny the accusation and claim the DUP is using the issue to deflect from its handling of a botched renewable heat scandal at Stormont.

Mrs Foster said: "I am asking the people of Northern Ireland to sign the DUP pledge to defend those who defended us during the Troubles.

"The Iraqi Historical Abuse Tribunal (Ihat) was abused with a litany of false allegations against our servicemen and women. This led to them being hounded by those who mouthed human rights but were playing a different game.

"What they tried with Ihat they are trying to do the same in Northern Ireland and rewrite the past.

"The injustices of the Ihat took much time to expose. It was through a combination of political, media and public pressure that this was achieved. We must follow this example.

"Many of those who served in Northern Ireland with the armed forces, RUC GC (Royal Ulster Constabulary - George Cross) and other services are now elderly or retired, and it is not acceptable that they should have inflicted upon them a vindictive philosophy which seeks to whitewash its own crimes, whilst heaping suspicion and misinformation on others.

"So I ask you to take a few moments to sign the pledge for those who risked so much for us."

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