Former soldiers have criticised a decision by police in Northern Ireland not to investigate IRA attacks on them during The Troubles.
Scores of ex-British soldiers had asked the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to launch probes into terror attacks against them when they served in the region. but over a year later, the PSNI has now informed the veterans it does not have the resources to re-investigate all Troubles-related crimes.
Ex-soldier Mike Harmson, a member of the Veterans Party lobby group, claimed that the decision “only highlights the terrible injustice that we veterans have been subjected to by both the PSNI and local government”.
In a letter to the veterans, the PSNI said that from 1969 to 1989 there were over 35,000 shootings, 15,000 bombings and more than 3,200 deaths reported to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
The letter continued: “The PSNI has recently assessed both its capacity and its obligation to review or re-investigate non-fatal crimes that occurred during The Troubles.
“Whilst every indictable offence remains open until all perpetrators have been brought to justice, there’s no binding legal obligation upon the PSNI to proactively re-examine all the crimes that occurred during this period. If we were to do so, it would require such a significant use of our resources that our ability to protect the people of Northern Ireland today would be drastically undermined.”
The letter continued: “The PSNI does not have the necessary resources to review or investigate any non-fatal Troubles-related crimes, committed against any persons, including soldiers, police officers, the broader public, or members of paramilitary organisations, where there is no binding legal obligation to do so.”
In response Mr Harmson, who served for two years in the province as a private in the 1980s, accused the PSNI of “doing absolutely nothing to investigate the serious crimes committed against us”.
Mr Harmson, who later joined the RUC and then the PSNI added: “As a former PSNI detective I would say that justice should be equal and all innocent victims of the conflict deserve closure.
“It would appear that we veterans who gave so much are being brushed under the carpet of history by those who attempt to re-write the bloody legacy of The Troubles.”
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has warned the Policing Board that the current mechanisms to manage legacy matters are “inadequate”.