Belfast Telegraph

PUP needs to get a sense of proportion over HET arrests

By Liam Clarke

We have got used to 50/50 recruiting in the police, aimed at achieving a religious balance between nationalists and unionists.

Hopefully, its days are numbered as Catholic numbers cross the 30% point. But, just when it looks as if we may be getting rid of that, the Progressive Unionist Party has brought head-counting to absurdity and beyond. They have launched a campaign to impose quotas on murder investigations by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

Claims by Brian Ervine, the party leader, that the HET should have arrested less loyalists and more republicans sound like a bad Irish joke.

Yet, he is keeping a straight face and Basil McCrea, a UUP member of the Policing Board who really should know better, has chipped in with calls to address "this perceived imbalance".

Mr Ervine claims that, since republicans committed more Troubles murders than loyalists, the arrest and conviction rate should reflect this. He says anything other than this is "treating the working class unionist communities with utter contempt."

He'd like a quota on murder convictions, but why stop there? Should loyalist criminals get lessons on how to cover their tracks so to promote an equity of outcome with their republican counterparts? And should we think of extending proportionality throughout the Criminal Justice system? Will traffic police be told to issue no speeding tickets to Protestants this month because they have fallen below target on Catholics or people of no faith?

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