OTR reaction: Police Federation to meet Chief Constable

Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.
Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

The head of the Police Federation in Northern Ireland is set to meet with the Province’s most senior officer tomorrow after the existence of the letters emerged.

Chairman Terry Spence, representing around 7,000 officers, said: “I’ve spoken to widows and dependants of murdered RUC officers, and the mood is one of huge disappointment, despair and despondence – mixed with anger and shock...

“I’m meeting with the Chief Constable on Friday, and will be raising these matters with him. I want to know what the PSNI culpability is in all of this, because he’s issued an apology.

“I’m not quite sure why he’s issued an apology, but I need to find out.”

He said he remained in the dark about which paramilitaries had received letters and why, but he imagined many of them were behind the murders of his police colleagues.

He is also calling for a meeting with the Secretary of State, whom he wants to “rescind” the letters.

Several years ago, he had led a delegation of bereaved relatives to Downing Street to lobby against planned legislation (later ditched) that would have benefitted on the run paramilitaries.

“We knew only too well that if it went through the House of Commons it was going to be the law, and there wasn’t much that we could do to change that,” he said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared very “emotional” as photographs were exchanged of murdered officers, he said.

“We felt we’d done enough to win him over,” he added.

“It looks like what they’ve done is engaged in this underhand dealing behind closed doors, and now we have it all unravelling before our very eyes.”