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Letter of the day: Security forces operated under the rule of law and suggesting they are not also victims is offensive

Legacy row

In Friday's Belfast Telegraph (September 21), Professor Tom Hadden made a number of statements in his piece in the Comment section on Legacy proposals, which I feel I must respond to.

Firstly, he referred to "supporters of the security forces" and then said "on the other side, the families of victims…"

The clear inference here is that the security forces are not victims and indeed, that only the security forces created victims. This is as incredible as it is offensive. The fact is that the security forces operated under the rule of law as the lawfully constituted forces of the State and many became victims of terrorists as a result. And let us not be too squeamish to use the word terrorist.

Nor should we ever forget that 90% of deaths here were the result of terrorist murders, whereas only 10% were due to the security forces.

Secondly, there is a reference to "State and paramilitary bodies" which implies some kind of equivalence between lawful State forces and terror gangs whose every act was illegal. The police and Army made arrests and processed thousands of terrorists through the courts and prisons. By contrast, terrorists simply murdered and maimed people. There can be no equivalence between those who set out every day to uphold the rule of law and those who sought to destroy it. Thirdly, he refers to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa as something that might have been helpful here. The difference of course being that in South Africa, there was complete regime change once free and democratic elections were held, with the old order being replaced, whereas here the end of the Troubles saw a Northern Ireland that was still very firmly an integral part of the United Kingdom.

And that's before we address the absurdity of expecting truth from republicans who still maintain the code of omerta invoked by Martin McGuinness at the Saville Inquiry.

Doug Beattie

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UUP MLA, Upper Bann

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