Belfast Telegraph

Police Federation of Northern Ireland rejects call for Troubles amnesty for security forces

Police Federation for Northern Ireland chairman Mark Lindsay. (PFNI/PA)
Police Federation for Northern Ireland chairman Mark Lindsay. (PFNI/PA)

Members of the security forces who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles should not be given a special amnesty, the chair of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland (PFNI) has said.

Mark Lindsay, speaking at the PFNI annual conference in Co Down on Wednesday, said that no one should be above the law.

Mr Lindsay's comment are in direct opposition to proposals put forward by defence secretary Penny Mordaunt, who has backed calls for military veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict to be covered by an amnesty from prosecution.

However, Mr Lindsay, who speaks for around 7,000 officers in the PSNI, said there was an effort to blame the security forces for all killings during the Troubles.

"As police officers, both serving and retired, we have never sought to be treated any differently than other sections of our communities. A crime is a crime no matter who committed it," he said.

"However, there is a clear and concerted effort, by some, to lay all the blame for atrocities carried out by terrorist groupings at the door of the police and military. We stated in our [legacy] submission that this is totally unacceptable."

Mr Lindsay said that it is "perverse" to set up institutions which will seek to investigate retired officers, while terrorists have been released from prison, granted pardons and issue comfort letters.

Mr Lindsay said we risk "creating a new community of victims" among former and retired police officers, who will have to use their pensions and savings to defend themselves in court.

Lindsay added: “The imbalance of the accuser getting seemingly unlimited legal aid, while the accused former officer is left to his or her own devices is not lost on anyone. That is wrong on every level. It is blatant discrimination.”

The PFNI chair also called on politicians in Northern Ireland to "settle their differences".

"The job of repairing fences and getting back to legislating and running Northern Ireland should trump all else," he said.

"If politicians are to rebuild public trust and confidence, then they will have to move from narrow, sectional demands and instead consider the greater societal good.

"Settle your differences inside Stormont and not outside it.

"It's time to end shrill megaphone voices for what passes as local political engagement.

"Deliver what people want and what policing and society needs."

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