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Amnesty a bad idea as Army unit's sins revealed

I WONDER if the Attorney General, John Larkin, had foreknowledge of the BBC Panorama programme detailing the activities of the Army's Military Reaction Force (MRF). Probably not, but it illustrates why a de facto amnesty is the very opposite of a good idea.

The absence of any meaningful acknowledgement that the Army operated outside its own rules of engagement in targeting unarmed citizens not involved with paramilitary organisations continues now.

That an Army unit was allowed to operate in such a way will surprise no-one who has looked at the history of the Troubles.

This policy reflected the view held by many in the security forces that the Catholic/nationalist community was a 'problem' that needed to be solved, that the whole Catholic/nationalist community supported the IRA and that the best way to address terrorism was to act like a terrorist.

This led to a whole community being labelled as terrorists and to innocent men and women being killed by forces of the state.

Colonel Richard Kemp, who served in Northern Ireland – although not while the MRF was operating – credited their actions with being so effective that the IRA was forced to negotiate. Really? This from a man who commanded the Army in Afghanistan – another arena in which, it has been argued, the actions of foreign military forces have radicalised local communities, leading, in turn, to the deaths of our own forces.

ROBERT HALL

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Belfast Telegraph

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