Colum Eastwood challenges Jeffrey Donaldson on alleged 'vexatious prosecutions' - How many members of the security forces have been prosecuted to date?
DUP leadership contestant Jeffrey Donaldson has acknowledged 'very few' members of the British security forces have been prosecuted for their role in the conflict in Ireland after being challenged by Derry MP Colum Eastwood.
Mr. Donaldson referred to what some unionists and British politicians allege are 'vexatious prosecutions' against members of the British Army and the police service for killing people in Ireland over the past half century.
"There has been far too much focus—far too much focus—on our veterans and our retired police officers," said the Lagan Valley MP. "We need a process that brings the spotlight on to those who caused by far the greater amount of hurt and suffering in Northern Ireland, who are those who stepped outside the law and were part of paramilitary terrorist organisations."
Mr. Eastwood intervened: "Can I just ask him one question: how many members of the security forces have been prosecuted to date?"
The DUP MP acknowledged: "Well, very few have been prosecuted to date for this reason: the forces of law and order, whether they be our armed forces or police, were acting to protect the community. I am very clear that if a member of the armed forces steps outside the law, of course they are amenable to the law—I am clear about that—but what I am not prepared to accept are our veterans being targeted in the way that they have been in being singled out and pursued through the courts when there is no new evidence and when they have previously been subjected to article 2-compliant investigations."