Many veterans ‘do not want to see Northern Ireland Troubles amnesty’

Michael McHugh, PA
·2-min read

Many armed forces veterans do not want to see an amnesty from justice introduced in Northern Ireland, their commissioner has said.

A “middle way” should be found between their needs and the demands of others who seek answers about deaths of loved ones, Danny Kinahan said.

He added the Government should be held to its promise to behave in a fair, balanced and proportionate fashion.

“They were out there protecting all of us and many of them have given not just their lives but their whole way of life is now completely changed by having worked within security and the awful things that happened to them in the past.”

The Veterans Commissioner said those he represents wanted to be respected and to publicise their stories.

Mr Kinahan took part in discussions on addressing the legacy of the past hosted at London’s Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury in November.

The event was branded a secret talks process which ignored victims, but organisers said it was a seminar based on a previous report.

The guest list included representatives of the British and Irish governments, senior republican Sean Murray, loyalist Winston Irvine, and Judith Thompson, who was the commissioner for victims and survivors.

Mr Kinahan said it had “opened the door” to further engagement.

He recalled he had been asked to discuss an “academic set of principles” about how the legacy process could advance and said he was pleased to be invited.

“I went there to find a lot of groups that weren’t represented.

“There were some good, strong people, but to me, it seemed there were many more who should have been there on the victims, veterans and government side.”

Mr Kinahan said former soldiers believed in the rule of law.

He told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs: “We have a large number of veterans who do not want to see any amnesty whatsoever.

“Most veterans want the past put behind them and would like to find a way forward. I want us to find a way forward.

“The rule of law must be followed.”

He said officials may need to find “variations” and noted that many people convicted had already been freed, and some had gone on to serve in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Kinahan added: “The whole of society needs us to find a solution to legacy, to find a way forward so that it does not stay with us in the future.”