The News Letter is reporting Basil McCrea expressing concern about potential bias in the work of the Historical Enquires Team. An FoI request has apparently revealed that all but one of the 71 arrests they have made has been of loyalists. McCrea appears to support the attempts to arrest loyalist criminals but points out that since the majority of the murders here were committed by the IRA, significant resources should also be devoted to the arrest of those criminals. He notes the difficulty the HET have due to the destruction without examination of many IRA weapons (though the same is true for loyalist weapons).
From the News Letter:
“I have been warning repeatedly at the policing board that if we do not deal with this perceived imbalance then there is the potential for problems in the months and years to come.
“That said, it is right and proper that the police will follow the evidence wherever the evidence leads, but there is a bigger political issue that must be addressed and thus far it has been completely ignored by the major political parties.
“It must be remembered that the majority of killings were carried out by the Provisional IRA and any continuation of the peace process tha does not recognise that fact is in dange of causing considerable unrest.”
Mr McCrea added: “As part of the political settlement, evidence was destroyed whenever the [Provisional IRA] guns were put beyond use.
“This means that the section of the conflict that was responsible for the majority of the killings is not amenable to justice in the normal way because the evidence is difficult to find.”
The reality of course is that the HET should continue to pursue loyalist terrorists with all means at their disposal. They should at the same time increase massively their pursuit of republican terrorists. Matt Baggott seems disinclined to devote resources to chasing the criminals of the past (despite that being very clearly part of his job). This was nowhere better illustrated than in his behaviour towards the families of the McGurk’s Bar murders. Not only was he crass and insensitive but he also all but dismissed attempts to bring to justice the perpetrators of one of the largest acts of mass murder ever committed in Northern Ireland.
McCrea seems to have just about threaded the line between calling, entirely reasonably, for more investigation of IRA murders and unacceptably calling for less investigation of loyalists.
PUP leader and cheerleader in chief for the UVF (he of the bridge between the two organisations) Brian Ervine, however, seems more inclined to straightforward cheerleading.
The PUP will this morning hold a picket of the PSNI headquarters to protest against the Historical Enquiries Team’s activities. There was a brief attempt at pretending that he supported the arrest of loyalist criminals when Ervine stated:
“Like I said, I don’t have a problem with investigations but I do have a problem with the sectarian nature of the HET’s one-sided approach.”
Unfortunately the rest of his comments seemed to be somewhat incompatible with an enthusiasm for the HET to arrest loyalist criminals:
They [HET] are scapegoating our community as far as the Troubles are concerned. Where is the parity of esteem in this?
The simple fact is that the HET are perusing murderers from the Troubles: those loyalist murderers murdered very many working class unionists as well as Catholics and indeed now almost exclusively murder working class unionists. Once again it is fairly obvious that to Brian Ervine and the PUP “our community” means not working class unionists but only loyalist terrorists and their supporters. The reality of his cheerleading is further brought out in his own words:
“Now, the loyalists were culpable and some of the things they did were awful, and I don’t have a problem with the truth, but the horrible spin-off of this is the anger and frustration in these areas that the men who brokered the peace are being sought by the Historical Enquiries Team.”
This is not even weasel worded: it is simple cheerleading. Everything the loyalists did was awful: the existence of the loyalist terrorists was unwanted by the overwhelming majority of unionist community be they working, middle or whatever class. When he suggests that the HET are pursuing “the men who brokered the peace” that is utterly disingenuous. The HET would in no way be interested in peace makers: No the HET are interested in criminals who have committed murders. The only contribution those being sought by the HET made to peace was to stop murdering people. One does not usually congratulate a murderer for having not murdered anyone recently. Of course the reality is that the more than two dozen murders the UVF have committed since their so called ceasefire shows that they are still a pack of murderers: The only difference now being that they mainly murder Protestants rather than being cross community in their murderousness.
Ervine by his latest actions and by the PUP’s protest outside police headquarters shows that he and it are still locked assuredly into the pattern of simplistic support for a vicious murder gang which continues its involvement in organised crime as well as periodically still murder. Just like Dawn Purvis and the PUP protest when child murderer (and PUP member) Billy Hutchinson was arrested over withholding information over a child’s murder, Ervine and the PUP have again shown their true colours. Although the PUP may not understand the point, hopefully their latest actions will help ensure that the electorate of East Belfast shun them at next month’s elections. Between the HET and the electorate hopefully both the terrorists and the cheerleaders will meet their comeuppance.
Update: There is an interview with Jeffrey Donaldson, Basil McCrea and Ervine on Talkback here (from 19 mins on) H/T andnowwhat. There is also a link to the PUP website which continues to present completely inaccurate figures on the numbers of convictions here.