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Northern Ireland Troubles officers should face probes, insists Labour MP

By Jon Vale

Labour's commitment to the Armed Forces has been questioned during a debate on Northern Ireland - with one MP suggesting the party has been siding with the IRA under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Dave Anderson - who is not seeking re-election in June - told the Commons soldiers and the security services who served during the Troubles should face investigations if they did not act correctly. The Labour MP went against pleas from Conservative and DUP MPs, who said the police and soldiers who served in Northern Ireland should not face fresh probes.

There has been concern over British veterans being investigated over their conduct in Northern Ireland, over incidents that happened up to 40 years ago.

Tory James Heappey asked Mr Anderson: "I wonder if he might join me in confirming his belief that the British Army should not be subject to further investigations for the actions that they took during the Troubles?

"Would he confirm that his party under its current leadership, that they have their loyalty firmly with the British Army, not the IRA?"

Mr Anderson replied: "I think it's quite clear from my point of view that if people in uniform, if they did not act correctly, then I'm sorry, I can't agree that they shouldn't be brought to book."

Mr Anderson's comments faced criticism from the DUP's Sammy Wilson, who said incidents where the police or army were involved should not be treated as murder. He added: "That's the inequality and what causes the anger that we have seen in so many families, that every killing by terrorists was no doubt a murder, it was illegal.

"But in many occasions, those incidents in which soldiers and policemen were involved were in protection of life and property, and therefore should not be treated by the authorities as if there was something illegal involved in the incident."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said proposals for new institutions to investigate Northern Ireland's controversial legacy issues will soon be made public.

Mr Brokenshire said: "Constructive discussions took place with all the parties on the detail of the legacy institutions set out in the Stormont House Agreement, and on the need to reform legacy inquests.

"While no one will underestimate the challenge in addressing the legacy of the past, I do believe that the proposals are now sufficiently developed that the next step should be to publish proposals for consultation.

"That way, we can listen to the views of victims and survivors, and all those that will be most affected by the proposed new institutions."

The DUP's defence spokesman, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, welcomed the move to put the issues out to consultation.

He added: "We do not believe that a failure to form a government in Northern Ireland should prevent the Government from preceding with legislation to establish those new legacy bodies. I would say to the Secretary of State, while Sinn Fein may have a veto over the formation of a government, it would be the ultimate irony if we allowed the party that represents the organisation that murdered more people in the Troubles than anyone else to veto the legacy bodies, the institutions that are to be established to investigate those murders."

Direct rule could end chaos , Page 6

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