Doug Beattie: Baseless claim is slur against those who protected public
On June 5, 1976, terrorists attacked the Rock bar near Keady. This incident took place against the backdrop of some of the most sustained and brutal violence of the Troubles and came just a few months after the Kingsmill Massacre, which took place a few miles away. The past has become the latest theatre of operations in the political battlefield as republicans and their supporters try to rewrite history and seize control over how the past is remembered and understood.
Republicans want to have the right to commemorate terrorists who were killed by the lawful forces of the state as if there is some kind of equivalence between the two.
This is why we hear the refrain from some quarters that thousands of republicans went to prison while only a few soldiers ever did, and that is somehow proof of unfairness in the system.
The reality of course is that republican terrorists were not equivalent to the Army or police, who were obliged to act at all times within the law.
Republican terrorists were equivalent to loyalist terrorists, who also operated outside the law at all times.
And thanks to the efforts of the RUC, the courts and jails were filled with thousands of terrorists from both sides and the public was protected as a result.
On the very few occasions where members of the RUC or Army stepped outside the law they were acting on their own accord.
They were not in any way directed to do so by the RUC, they were not protected by the RUC, their actions were not condoned by the RUC and crucially, they were investigated and brought to justice by the RUC and served jail sentences.
The recent tweet by the Pat Finucane Centre attempting to smear the RUC by insisting the Rock Bar in Keady was subject to an organised RUC attack is absolutely disgraceful and undermines their position as an advocate for all victims. There is no pretence of even-handedness or any attempt to be seen as capable of taking a balanced view of events.
They have simply become a republican mouthpiece and propaganda tool.
Their slurs on the brave men and women who stood bravely to defeat terrorism in this land mean that it is now time their public funding is reassessed and withdrawn.
- Doug Beattie MLA is the Ulster Unionist Party's justice spokesman