NIO: director for new police unit needs agreement

Victims and Survivors Commissioner Judith Thompson
Victims and Survivors Commissioner Judith Thompson

Any appointment of a ‘shadow’ director for a new Troubles policing unit needs broad agreement on legislation, the government has said.

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson has made a call for the appointment of a ‘shadow’ director for the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), which is proposed in the Stormont House Agreement.

Ms Thompson said it would be “a sign of good faith and intent in the delivery” of the body while DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the new unit is “vital”.

UUP MP Tom Elliott, however, said his party is “deeply concerned” about HIU, comments echoed by Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation.

But the UK government did not dismiss Ms Thompson’s call. “As the victims commissioner has said, we first need broad agreement on the legislation,” a spokesman said. “But we are aware the Department of Justice has preparatory work in hand to enable the HIU to be set up as quickly as possible once political agreement is reached.”

Lawyer and reconciliation activist Trevor Ringland believes it unlikely that HIU will hold terrorists to account. “Martin McGuinness sums it up,” he said. “Was he ever prosecuted? Is this not really how the governments will deal with the past?”

READ MORE: Row after victims’ chief calls for ‘Shadow’ director of new police unit