DPP takes heat over decision to prosecute ex soldiers…

Interesting response from the DPP Barra McGrory, who’s been coming under pressure for his decision to prosecute British soldiers for Troubles era crimes. Vincent Kearney reports:

I asked Mr McGrory if he viewed the criticism as an attempt to influence his decision making and to put pressure on him not to prosecute former soldiers.

“If they are not trying to influence me then they are certainly being personally insulting, and they are questioning my integrity,” he says.

“But what concerns me more about that is that it is insulting to this office and to the lawyers who work here and do their work day and daily with absolute integrity and to the best of their ability.

“So I am personally offended by the remarks, but I am more offended on behalf of the individuals who work for the public prosecution service and who do a fantastic job, so I think those who are making those comments ought to think a bit carefully before they speak in such a way.”

Well, quite. The dignity of any legal office is an important thing in any society (and something that should be borne in mind by anyone commenting below).  Doubly so in a divided community like Northern Ireland. The line between fair comment and abuse is a thin one.

It emphasises the need to clear up just how the state handles legacy issues, and raises questions about how it has been handled up to an including Mr McGrory’s appointment.

Whatever happens in that regard justice is a basic human right that cannot be legally withheld from anyone.

The remarkable lack of convictions for Troubles era crimes (whether by pro-state or anti-state actors) has not been subject to any official or public agreement, but the lack of will to pursue never mind prosecute in that regard is clear from even a casual reading the data.

The Scappaticci case is likely to provide more of a test for Mr McGrory’s judgement in the sense that evidence is likely to pass through his office’s hands pointing to multiple murders by persons or persons unknown.

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  • SDLP supporter

    Not a wise move to complain about being criticised. The DPP is well paid to take the heat though not as well compensated as our very own Attorney General for NI who, I understand, is better paid than his counterpart for England and Wales. Anything that punctures ‘top lawyer’ pomposity meets with my approval.

  • file

    “The remarkable lack of convictions for Troubles era crimes (whether by pro-state or anti-state actors) …”
    Were you ever up at Long Kesh, Mick? There was no shortage of anti-state convicted prisoners in there, you know.

  • aquifer

    The law is the law if you don’t like it change it.

    Murder is the ultimate human rights violation, so a hard line is probably appropriate.

    But when those committing the most calculated atrocities are already off the hook?

    And when the Provo’s calculated choice of campaign methods invited combat troops onto the streets?

    Combat troops are necessarily desensitised to death, with the chain of command above usually taking responsibility for their actions, so what penalty?

    The law and justice can be two different things.

  • anon

    DId you hear the criticisms from conservatives? They described him as the ‘Sinn Fein’ supporting DPP for NI. He is right to stand up to such criticism, which is an attempt to interfere with the indepence of his office and discredit him personally to the extent where he can’t do his job.

  • Zorin001

    This is the Conservatives and Daily Mails new bete-noir, just look at the amount of campaigning down around Soldier “A” then look at the video of what happened (the one the MoD was desperate not to come out).

    Soldiers should be held to the full force of the law when there is wrongdoing, I appreciate that when it comes to combat in the field that it can be difficult to ascertain what was legitimate or was not. However when it comes to blatant acts of wrongdoing there can’t be a two track justice system.

  • mickfealty

    And a lot of unconvicted ones. Perhaps I should have been clearer, I’m talking about prosecutions post 1997.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Some might argue there was no shortage of pro-state convicted prisoners in there also ?

  • Sliothar

    This is the Conservatives and Daily Mails..
    ‘…and the DUP’ you could have added as it’s becoming clear to me that they are also part of this (concerted) campaign.

  • Skibo

    Are we going back to the times when to challenge the British security system you must be a Republican sympathiser?
    The Conservative politician challenged the impartiality of the DPP. Everyone should shouting about this. It should not be left to the AG. The Executive should have supported their AG.
    The fact of putting a soldier’s uniform on does not set you above the law. As far as I am aware, Martial law was never declared in NI. If correct then the soldiers are as liable to be prosecuted by criminal law as any citizen. Even if it had been, there are still rules and regulations that they have to abide by.
    As for the investigations carried out during the Troubles into Army operations, did the police investigations predominate the army investigation?

  • Skibo

    I would like to see the proof of such a statement. How many agents of the state were incarcerated?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Almost 10K Loyalists went through LK ! How many agents of the state were incarcerated ? At one time I would say them all on both sides ended up in LK before they became agents off the state ! – but that we will never know ?

  • Skibo

    Where did you find that figure? How many soldiers were incarcerated for actions during the troubles? They killed approximately 300 people, half of which were civilians.

  • Dan

    he doesn’t have my confidence

  • AntrimGael

    It’s obvious what’s going on here. A cabal of Little Englander Tories; a rabid, right wing media and the DUP have launched an all out attack on Barra McGrory and his office. It is venemous and totally politically motivated. You can almost feel the outrage. “Bah, bah, bah. I say, what’s changed here, we used to be able to shoot Paddy for fun and he enjoyed it”. There’s also a large degree of bigoted sectarianisn thrown in for good measure. The thought of an uppity Taigy Fenian taking these decisions is wrecking their heads, especially the DUP. As I said on a previous thread, this crowd are in Donald Trump mode. If they had their way they would bring back the Penal Laws and send a few gunboats up the Lagan.

  • AntrimGael

    I am sure he is sitting up all night worrying at that revelation.

  • Skibo

    For what reason does he not?

  • Madra Uisce

    themmuns

  • mickfealty

    See my point above?

  • Skibo

    Mick,
    I looked up and could not find anywhere, where you were asked “If you do not have confidence in the JG why not?” Anything I read between the lines may be blinded by my own beliefs.

  • mickfealty

    Just concerned drawing others out too much gets us into dodgy territory. There’s an election on and there’s a lot of boundary about. Appreciate your forbearance.

  • Granni Trixie

    I agree with your analysis. Those who take an interest in justice issues know that the DUP role here is always going to be politically sensitive. We are fortunate to have someone such Barra McCrory prepared to take on this role at this time.

  • John Collins

    And some people long terms in jail who were convicted of nothing after internment.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Obviously the Tories are worried about the North, Who ever thought this day would come.

  • Zig70

    The lack of will to pursue and prosecute is down to the ability of the police and associates to provide evidence that fills the criteria. Is there any evidence that decisions have been taken with that criteria fulfilled? If no-one is convicted over Scap then maybe the dogs in the street should be on trial next.

  • AntrimGael

    Sir Jeffrey now rowing away from the DUP attacks on Barra McGrory and focusing on the PSNI and HET. However it was game, set and match to Gerry Kelly who asked how could it be one sided when only FOUR British soldiers served time in jail compared to 1000’s of Republicans???