‘Terrorists should have been sought out and punished like Al Qaeda’

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A COOKSTOWN councillor has said terrorists in Northern Ireland should have been “sought out and punished” like Al Qaeda.

Robert Kelly, a Ulster Unionist representative in the town, made the comments following a recent meeting with Mid-Ulster Troubles victims.

Following the event, which UUP leader Mike Nesbitt also attended, Councillor Kelly criticised how the events of the Troubles have been handled by the government.

He told the MAIL that Northern Ireland should have dealt with those who killed or maimed during the darkest period of the province’s past like Israel or the USA.

He also launched a stinging attack on Sinn Fein and the DUP, accusing the parties of “covering up” details of the past to “keep the peace process on track”.

Mr Kelly’s comments come just a week after the UUP launched its policy paper on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles. Titled ‘Dealing with the Past’, the Ulster Unionist policy states that current mechanisms in place to help those blighted by the Troubles are “imperfect, incomplete, imbalanced” and “serving to rewrite history”.

Speaking to the MAIL this week, the Cookstown councillor said: “In any other country around the world where the acts of terror have been committed the perpetrators have been sought out and punished in the severest measures.”

“When the democracy of a country is threatened they will defend that democracy to the fullest measure, for example look how the USA dealt with Al Qaeda, how Israel dealt with Hamas and how Britain went out of its way to deal with the Saddam Hussein regime,” he said.

“When you take these examples why is there a difference made between these terrorists and the ones who dictate the course of Northern Ireland politics at Stormont, because you take off a balaclava and put on your Sunday best suit doesn’t make your past go away.”

“But because Sinn Fein have convinced DUP that this country’s fortunes will be better served while they cosy up to each other, the hurt caused by the IRA past action is still very much in evidence in the wider community at present.”

The Cookstown councillor continued: “The sooner Sinn Fein DUP realise that the people of Ulster will not accept a selective truth about the past then we will be able to deal with it in a positive and sensitive manner,”

Councillor Kelly said those he represented wanted a full and transparent process in dealing with the hurt connected with the Troubles. He said this could only be achieved if state files on Martin McGuinness’ alleged role in the IRA was revealed.

“If state files are to be opened to public scrutiny the first files to be opened should be those marked ‘McGuinness M’ and ‘Adams G’ or will there be another cover up and those files mysteriously disappear in order to keep the peace process on track,” he said.

He added: “The past can be unpicked but not undone, the UUP want to influence the future and help close this ugly chapter that blighted Northern Ireland for decades and focus on the opportunities we can create for generations to come whilst still holding on to our identity as British citizens.

“If Sinn Fein are being honest about a shared future, these are the pressing questions that the people I represent want answers to.

“We are no longer willing to accept half-truths and cover ups in order that Sinn Fein/DUP can control our destiny and our children’s future.”