Current system will not probe murder of RUC or soldiers - NIO

Kris Hopkins. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
Kris Hopkins. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography

The current policing and justice system will not investigate the murder of around 185 murders nor RUC members, a junior Minister at the Northern Ireland Office has said.

Kris Hopkins made the comments during a debate this week in Westminster on dealing with the past, arguing that it was time to establish the legacy bodies proposed under the Stormont House Agreement.

“The HIU [Historical Investigations Unit] will not focus on the deaths caused by soldiers, as the investigations systems in Northern Ireland do today,” he told MPs. “Instead, it will take each case in turn and will investigate the many hundreds of murders caused by terrorists, including the murders of soldiers.

“Honourable Friends, it is estimated that without reform of the current mechanisms, around 185 murders of soldiers, not to mention the many murders of RUC members, will not be investigated. There will be a statutory duty for the HIU to act in a balanced, proportionate, transparent, fair and equitable way.”

Sir Henry Bellingham, who sponsored the debate, concluded by recommending “something along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and amnesty committee that South Africa set up so successfully”.

But PSNI Det Supt Jason Murphy, Deputy Head of the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch, said he thought Mr Hopkins comments were “not quite correct”.

Any case of murders of police or soliders not previously looked at by the Historical Enquiries Team “are very much on our books” he said.

“In my view those cases will be subject to a review and if there is an opportunity to bring someone to justice, a further investigation. So to me it does not sound as though those comments [by Mr Hopkins] are correct.”

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United said: “There has been a choreographed chorus this week from the PSNI, Government Ministers, other politicians and the Victims Commissioner with the lyrics being repeated; ‘accept the HIU and the wider Stormont House Agreement’ proposals on ‘The Past’ or it’s only going to get worse. Many will read this as a form of emotional blackmail.”