The following is a statement issued by the progressive Unionist Party today.
‘McGrory sabotages efforts to ‘deal with the past’ PUP Leader Cllr Billy Hutchinson slams the DPP for his political witch hunt of Winston Rea.
The Progressive Unionist Party utterly condemns attempts by the DPP Barra McGrory to raid the Boston College history archive in a malicious and flagrantly political fishing expedition against Winston Churchill Rea.
Mr Rea, who as a representative of the PUP, made a very significant and widely acknowledged contribution to the peace process; from ceasefires to decommissioning and the political architecture which facilitated them in between.
Party Leader Cllr Billy Hutchinson slammed the effort, “This malicious abuse of process before the courts is just another in the long history of ‘balancing’ exercises where Loyalists have been singled out, not on merit but for the optics of appearing independent to a political audience. Internment, collective punishment, shoot to kill, historic investigations, the past is replete with instances where Loyalists have suffered punitive measures for the sake of appearance rather than requirement.
After the arrests of high profile Republicans relating to the Jean McConville investigation, Barra McGrory has abused his authority in an effort to appear, rather than to be, balanced. A previous subpoena request listed Winston Rea and a Republican in the very same circumstances. When that subpoena failed due to lack of evidence, the Republican’s name mysteriously disappeared and the token Loyalist required for public consumption remained. Unfortunately that Loyalist happened to be Winston Rea.”
He continued, “The distinct lack of evidence in this case is the starkest indication that the judicial process is being used in an exercise of political window dressing. Winston Rea’s rights under the ECHR are being subjected to the unfettered will of the DPP as he continues his overtly political agenda. We need not look to far back to be reminded of a mass supergrass show trial or the ‘On the Runs’ debacle. Perhaps if Winston Rea had been a Republican, he would have received a letter of comfort rather than an international subpoena.
Had this material been deposited in a UK University, lack of evidence would have quashed the case long before it reached the eyes of a judge. International legal cooperation has allowed Winston Rea’s Human Rights to be subject to the whims of this DPP by virtue of legal loophole.
I would further caution that Barra McGrory’s efforts will lay waste to any hope of ‘dealing with the past.’ The Stormont House Agreement called for an oral history archive and an information recovery process. Both were to be underpinned by strict confidentiality, yet here the DPP seeks to run roughshod over a similar attempt to understand the past and the confidentiality that gave birth to it.
After this evidently politically motivated witch-hunt against Winston Rea, who is likely to engage in the structures envisaged by that Agreement? The understandable mood within Loyalism suggests no-one. But then that outcome was obvious to the DPP in his duty to consider the public interest. Thus, the deeper question arises – who does this serve?”
Cllr Hutchinson concluded, “With the DUP content to get their Stormont budget passed, is dealing with the past to be left to Sinn Fein’s revisionists and any other version of history suppressed by their stacked process? These questions are central to the success of any search for truth or recovery of information; the cabal of the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and DPP need to think long and hard about the implications of their answers.”