I note the outcome of today’s sentencing hearing for veteran David Holden. It was not the intention of Mr Holden to cause the death of Aidan McAnespie on that tragic day in February 1988.
We must remember that the security services stood as the protectors of all the people of Northern Ireland during the dark days of our Troubles. The professional and dedicated service of over 300,000 service personnel, who served during Operation Banner, should not be allowed to be forgotten or rewritten in history for something it wasn’t.
The same cannot be said for the terrorists who actively went out to murder, maim and terrorise through a campaign of bombings, shootings, punishment beatings and intimidation, whose intent was solely to cause harm, loss of life, injury and fear.
More than 3,500 people lost their lives during the Troubles, including over 1,000 members of the security services.
Finding a way forward on legacy issues is absolutely key to allowing veterans, many in the twilight of life, to hold their heads high and be proud of what they did to protect society during thirty years of a terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland.
As Veterans Commissioner I am committed to helping to bring about a system that is fair, balanced and proportionate and that will command the support of the majority of veterans and indeed innocent victims and survivors. That is why I have been actively involved in working with Parliamentarians and other key stakeholders in trying to improve the current legacy Bill and put forward workable amendments that will ensure the legislation delivers, as best it can, for all involved in the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.