I think your support and endorsement of the actions of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday 1972 is repulsive. It is one thing to offer to pay legal costs but you went far beyond just doing that. Your stated reason for offering to pick up Soldier F’s legal bills, you say, is because:
We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.Not only did Soldier F and his colleagues inflict serious harm on the Bloody Sunday victims and their families, but the whole community. And if what was inflicted on the inhabitants of Derry is of no concern to you then you might reflect upon the fact that Soldier F, and his colleagues, directly contributed to the escalation of the conflict; which cost the lives of fellow service men, not least 18 members of their own Regiment at Warrenpoint.
I am also concerned with what form any proposed new legislation might take, you stated:
The Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated. … And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues.No new legislation is needed for your Ministry to disclose evidence connected to countless other questionable killings by defence personnel. Your Ministry has a reputation for concealing and withholding evidence in such cases. Although, I suspect you are talking about legislation that puts killers like Soldier F beyond the reach of accountability for their murderous deeds.
Contrary to assertions made by you, and others, defence force killers are not being treated unfairly and in fact have largely escaped accountability for the atrocities that they have been involved in directly or may have colluded with others to carry out.
You overlook the fact that a whole specialised legal system, known as Diplock Courts, were devised to speedily get rid of unwanted members of, mostly, but not confined to, the Nationalist community. It was a brutish and abusive system that Soldier F will never experience. In fact, thanks to you, he will get the best of legal representation and his case will likely be heard by a judge who is sympathetic to defence personnel.
As a Minister of State your remarks leave no doubt that you personally feel some sense of indebtedness to Soldier F, a stone cold killer, who ran amok in Derry in 1972, killing and attempting to kill innocent unarmed civilians. There is no honour in that.
Your comments remove all doubt about the motives behind MoD withholding of documentary evidence that several courts down the years have ordered disclosed in cases involving controversial killings by members of the defence forces.
⏩ Christy Walsh was stitched up by the British Ministry of Defence and spent many years in prison as a result.