A Bristol MP has become the latest to criticise the arrest of a 66-year-old former paratrooper in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday.
Jack Lopresti, Conservative MP, for Filton and Bradley Stoke, addressing the Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons today, said: “Fundamental to the success of the Good Friday agreement was a spirit of peace and reconciliation that saw dozens, or even hundreds, of convicted terrorists released from prison.
“Many had been found guilty of murder. Yet in the last week, we have heard the alarming news that a 66-year-old former paratrooper has been arrested in connection with events that took place in Londonderry 43 years ago.”
He went on to ask: “In a week when we are all having to once again contemplate sending our young men and women into harm’s way, with our security services and police are on high alert, what message does the Prime Minister feel that that sends to our armed forces, our police and our security services?”
Mr Cameron replied: “I understand my hon. Friend’s concern and the feelings that many will have on seeing this news, but the truth is that one of the most important things about our country is that the Government do not decide who is prosecuted and who is not prosecuted. We have the rule of law; we have independent prosecuting authorities.
“This is something that people across the world cry out for and we have here, and we have to support them even when they take decisions that sometimes we would want to question.
“In that context, let me make a broader point. Yesterday the principal parties in Northern Ireland came together and agreed a deal to make sure that the devolved institutions can continue to work.
“That deal involved people who have lost loved ones to terrorism, and who have been opposed to each other all of their lives, sitting down and working together to try to deliver good government for this part of our United Kingdom, It is that spirit we should look to for the future.”