Anger at claim that 22 police officers working on Bloody Sunday but none on Enniskillen
The Chief Constable has been confronted with claims that 22 out of 55 PSNI legacy officers are working on Bloody Sunday investigations while none are working on the Enniskillen Poppy Day bomb.
Stephen Gault, who was seriously injured in the 1987 Enniskillen atrocity and whose father was killed, put his claim to the Chief Constable during a public question and answer session at a victims conference in Enniskillen last weekend.
Eleven people were killed in the Enniskillen attack while 14 died after paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972.
Mr Gault told the Chief Constable at the event, organised by the South East Fermanagh Foundation, that he met Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) officers in October and asked why out of up to 55 officers in that department “up to 24” were working on the Bloody Sunday investigation “but yet the Enniskillen case – which is the longest running case the Historical Enquiries Team undertook – is lying dormant and there is not one single LIB officer working on this case”.
Mr Gault’s wife Cathy followed up with claims that a new line of inquiry HET announced on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the bomb, in November 2012, had actually been given to police eight months beforehand. So the announcement had therefore been “a publicity stunt” she claimed.
LIB had assured her that the case was still open, she said, but the investigating officer recently revealed to her that “he hasn’t looked into this for a substantial length of time”.
The Chief Constable, who said he had reviewed investigations into the bombing for the conference, replied: “I am not going to dwell on the detail of the case on the basis that I might get it wrong, quite frankly. But nor I am I going to shy away from it.”
There were LIB officers present with him who would be able to answer the questions, he added.
There had been reviews in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and he was satisfied about the quality of those, he said. “There is one minor strand, one minor line of inquiry that the senior investigating officer is currently pursuing.”
He added: “If you are getting mixed messages that is regrettable. I will look at that.”
Work continues, he said, “albeit I need to deal with expectations. I am not as sure if it is going to end up in a courtroom. In fact it would be unlikely”.
Asked to comment on the Gaults’ concerns, a PSNI spokeswoman said the Chief Constable offered Mr Gault the opportunity to speak to LIB officers and that the invitation remains open.
Kenny Donaldson of SEFF said the Chief Constable’s presentation had left Enniskillen families present with “deep disappointment, frustration and hurt”. He called on the PSNI to apologise before making a “commitment to investigate the crime without limits”. The HET Senior Investigating Officer stated he was prevented from questioning Martin McGuinness about the case, he added.