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Police were also victims of Troubles

By Mark Lindsay

Published 12/02/2016

Mark Lindsay is chairman of the Police Federation
Mark Lindsay is chairman of the Police Federation

The role of the police in protecting people and creating the space for politics to take centre stage is well-documented.

As the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, rightly acknowledged, the dedication, professionalism and courage of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Armed Forces, with more than 7,000 awards for bravery, is an eloquent statement about the role they played.

The past cannot be easily resolved. To date, it is marked by failure, with heated debate around what constitutes a victim.

Let me be blunt. We have more than 200 unsolved murders of police officers - and those cases are not going away. On top of that, thousands of officers carry the scars of bomb and gun attacks.

Along with all the other innocent victims who bore the brunt of terrorism during the Troubles, they, too, deserve closure.

What they don't deserve is to be written out of the legacy narrative, consigned to the back pages of history, or conveniently overlooked.

We are likely to see legislation brought in to help with the work that is to be undertaken by four legacy bodies. Each, in their own way, brings particular difficulties to different groupings.

In the case of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), we have genuine national security issues to factor in, uppermost of which is the protection of identities and the way HIU staff are recruited, their status and powers.

There's to be an additional £150m promised for these structures. We will be arguing for the equitable allocation of the funding and that adequate resources are deployed to investigate the murder and maiming of officers.

We do not seek, or support, the concept of a hierarchy of victims; all we want is fairness.

We particularly welcome the rejection by Ms Villiers of the obnoxious idea of equivalence between the security forces and the terrorists. There is no parallel.

Little progress is likely this side of an Assembly election. The hope must be that, when the ballot boxes are put away, we can close the chapter and give every innocent victim and their relatives the comfort they need to get on with the present.

Mark Lindsay is chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland

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