The Ulster Unionist Party is urging the public to use the consultation process being run by the Northern Ireland Office on dealing with the past, to demand an end to the republican drive for equivalence between the IRA and the security forces.
Mike Nesbitt MLA said:
“There can be no equivalence between the security forces and terrorist groups like the IRA.
“The Army, the UDR, the RUC/PSNI can exist only if it is the will of their duly elected representatives. This is not the case with terror groups like the IRA.
“Armies and police services are the accepted norm in democracies. Terror groups are not.
“Those who don army or police uniforms are expected to operate to strict codes of conduct, including restrictions designed to ensure only minimum necessary force is used in any given situation. Terror groups placed no such obligation on their operatives.
“Service personnel who breach the rules can expect their commanding officers to hand them over for prosecution through the criminal justice system. This is the last thing the godfathers of violence contemplate.
“Soldiers and policemen are not expected to wake up thinking ‘who can I hurt today?’ Terrorists are.
“The security forces exist to uphold and protect the human rights of the country’s citizens. Terror groups engage in the worst type of human rights violations: tar and feathering, so-called punishment attacks, abductions, torturing and murdering, including the perverse and inhuman custom of “the disappeared”.
“Of course, members of the security forces occasionally break the rules, but that is not equivalence either, because terrorists do not break their code of conduct when they committed murder, they do exactly what their organisations want, facilitate and promote.
“On the occasions the army or police got it wrong during our conflict and were not subjected to sufficient and appropriate punishment, that is a stain on the integrity of the thousands who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect their family, community and country from attack. But it does not represent any equivalence with a terrorist campaign by organisations that celebrated death and destruction.
“The current government consultation on dealing with the past is an opportunity for everyone to reject the pernicious concept of equivalence, say no to re-writing history and demand that the truth of what someone says trumps the fear of offending the speaker by challenging their words.”