Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Conflict Investigations Consultation 'Flawed'

In a speech to the House of Lords, Lord Dannatt cast doubt on 'Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past’.


'The Troubles' took place between 1968 and 1998 (Image: PA).

A former head of the Army says he is unconvinced that an open consultation launched by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will be, in the words of the proposals, "balanced, fair, equitable and proportionate".

In a speech to the House of Lords, Lord Dannatt cast doubt on 'Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past’.

He also attacked investigations against some soldiers who served during the Troubles and whose actions are now being examined:

"From a military veteran’s point of view, this consultation is already flawed in that it has precluded at the outset the introduction of a statute of limitations ending these historical investigations.

"However, I am aware that, in pursuit of the objective to be “equitable”, there is a concern that a statute of limitations to protect former members of the security forces would mean that terrorists would, in effect, be given an amnesty as well.​"

Earlier in his speech Lord Dannatt suggested the process was unfair:

"While the Army kept extremely good operational records, the terrorists did not. This makes a very uneven playing field on which to conduct these retrospective investigations."

"All allegations were investigated by service and civil police at the time and statements were taken.

"It therefore raises the question of why revisiting whatever evidence that may still exist 30 or 40 years later is likely to bring any greater clarity."

Speaking before the debate he told Forces News new investigations were "distasteful" to soldiers who served in Northern Ireland nearly 50 years ago. He said:

"I think witch hunt is a reasonable term to use."

The conflict in Northern Ireland, known as 'The Troubles', was between 1968 and 1998.

On Tuesday, MPs heard from two former Commanding Officers on how they feel veterans could be better protected from investigations into historical events.

In July, the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said he was "prepared to go to any lengths" to prevent what he described as a "vendetta against former service personnel" who served in Northern Ireland.

Mr Williamson later announced he had set up a team to look at proposals to protect armed forces veterans from prosecution for historic allegations.

More: MPs Hear From Former Army Commanders About Limits On Historical Investigations