Belfast Telegraph

DUP's fingerprints all over flawed legacy proposals on past, insists Beattie

By Staff Reporter

A war of words between the UUP and the DUP over controversial Government proposals to deal with the legacy of the Troubles escalated last night.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, whose party has heavily criticised the legacy proposals, took aim at the DUP for its role in creating the conditions in which the current proposals were framed.

Speaking at the weekend, Mr Beattie said: "It's decision time for Arlene Foster and the DUP on the legacy proposals.

"These proposals are the outworking of an agreement which they brokered with Sinn Fein.

"The Stormont House Agreement and the Historical Investigations Unit were championed by the DUP.

"Now, Mrs Foster seems to be attempting to put some distance between the DUP and the legacy proposals with its associated draft legislation."

A Government consultation on addressing the legacy of past violence proposed setting up bodies including an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to seek criminal prosecutions, as well as establishing an information retrieval body.

The Government proposals have faced a barrage of criticism as it emerged that people injured in the Troubles will not be included, nor will people injured or murdered outside Northern Ireland, whether in the UK, Republic, or in Europe.

Responding to Mr Beattie's criticism, a spokeswoman for the DUP recalled that Mrs Foster was herself a victim of terrorist attack. She said: "Our response recognises that victims want investigations. Therefore, if legally or because of resources the PSNI cannot conduct those investigations, then it is sensible to have an independent unit.

"We also argue that where veterans have already been investigated and no new information has been discovered, then there should not be a witch-hunt in the way we have witnessed recently.

"It was under UUP stewardship the current immoral definition of a victim was first used.

"It was under a UUP agreement that the prison doors were opened and murderous victim makers were released.

"It was under UUP stewardship that the RUC was dismantled.

"The DUP has a proud record of delivering for victims and support groups."

But last night Mr Beattie, whose uncle Samuel Johnston was murdered by the IRA, reiterated his criticisms.

"The DUP need to make it clear: do they support a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) that will destroy the reputation of the RUC and those who served in it?" he asked.

"Will the DUP sit idly by while the new HIU is prevented from having former RUC or PSNI officers as investigators?

"Will the DUP look into the faces of those victims of terrorism - the maimed and psychologically damaged - and say: 'You will not get an investigation because you didn't die?'

"The DUP can use smoke and mirrors but the reality is they support a HIU that the Police Federation of Northern Ireland does not support, that the RUC GC does not support, and that victims' bodies do not support," the Upper Bann Assembly Member added.

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