editorial - action needed to ensure confidence

The publication of the latest report into the work of the Historical Enquiries Team in its investigations into many of the thousands of the unsolved killings during the Troubles has provoked unsurprising and even predictable reaction from some quarters.

The report, by the British Inspectorate of Constabulary, found that the authorities have been uneven in the way killers are treated, affording preferential treatment to those from state bodies such as the British Army and its various agencies who were party to the conflict here.

The reason this is unsurprising is that nationalists and republicans have known this for decades. Instances of collusion and cover-up have been raised since the earliest days of the Troubles.

The often-heard slogan at countless protests down the years that ‘collusion is not an illusion’ has been proved true time and again.

The predictable element of the reaction came from the unionist parties. Their supposed commitment to law and order, even when those tasked with upholding and enforcing those virtues fall short of the standard, is often blind to the failures of the past.

And the fact that those failings happened in the past does not mean they have no impact today.

Although profound and dramatic changes have taken place in policing, and the fact that the wider political situation has been totally transformed, issues from the past can still have an impact on public confidence in policing and justice, particularly among nationalists and republicans.

Clear and accountable steps needs to be taken, and be seen to be taken, in order to deal with the shameful actions of the past, particularly - but not exclusively - those carried out by the state.