The arrest of a former member of the Parachute Regiment on duty in Londonderry on the day of ‘Bloody Sunday’ was raised in the House of Commons last week.
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell questioned the Minister of State Ben Wallace MP about the disparity of treatment between former Paras and former Provos.
Speaking in the House of Commons he said: “Five years ago, the Prime Minister stood at the Dispatch Box and tried to bring closure to the £200 million Saville report, and people across the House and in many sections of society expressed the view that the matter was at an end.
“I predicted in this place at that time that that would not be the end of the matter and, unfortunately, so it has proved.
“Does the Minister accept that he needs to meet the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to ensure that, irrespective of whether people were in or out of uniform, if they had machine guns or probably had sub-machine-guns, like Martin McGuinness, they should be subject to the law and questioned equally, in order to be brought before the courts?”
The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ben Wallace, replied: “The Chief Constable is absolutely adamant that, in all criminal inquiries, he will treat people the same.
“He will investigate and he will follow the course of action. It was not that long ago that we were hearing cries about Sinn Féin politicians being arrested and taken in for questioning. I have confidence that the Chief Constable, who is respected by Members on both sides of the House, will follow his professional training, pursue people based on evidence and treat them fairly in that process. I cannot get involved in investigations.
“I cannot go to see the Chief Constable to interfere.
“If I did and the result was the same and there was no evidence in a particular case, it would never be allowed to be gotten away with. People would accuse me that I had interfered with a case and someone would be prevented from clearing their name.”
Following the debate Mr Campbell said: “When the Saville Report was debated in the House of Commons five years ago and there was considerable political consensus that ‘a line was being drawn’ under the whole matter after almost £200 million had been spent on the Inquiry, I warned that the matter would not end there as there were those who wanted to pursue the soldiers but not the IRA personnel whose actions before and at the time of Bloody Sunday had caused the Army to be in the Bogside in the first instance. Two Police officers were murdered on the route of the march just three days before it took place, yet all the concentration of evidence gathering has been to ascertain if soldiers broke the law, when it is blatantly obvious that the IRA personnel had been breaking the law and murdering people continuously before the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march.
“No one should be above the law, whether they were in uniform or our of uniform, that is the bottom line, it is the total emphasis on State Forces and lack of concentration on what people like Martin McGuinness were doing at the same time, in the same area, that is causing so much anger among many, both here in Northern Ireland and across the UK as a whole.“