Chief constable should steer clear of politics: victims' campaigner

A victims' rights campaigner has slammed Northern Ireland's police chief over comments he made around the need to implement stalled structures to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th December 2017, 7:00 am
George Hamilton said he was increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress on legacy issues
George Hamilton said he was increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress on legacy issues

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said he was growing increasingly frustrated that three years on from a political deal on a series of mechanisms to address unresolved conflict cases, the plan is not “one further inch forward”.

He said if local parties were unable to overcome the impasse blocking implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, then London needed to step up and deliver.

But Kenny Donaldson, director of services at victims’ group the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), has urged Mr Hamilton to “steer clear of politics”.

Accusing the chief constable of “effectively doing the political establishment’s bidding”, Mr Donaldson said: “This is unacceptable, particularly given the contested nature of the legacy proposals contained within the Stormont House Agreement.”

Highlighting that the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) does not have full political or community support, Mr Donaldson questioned why the chief constable was “getting involved”.

He added that many people were concerned the HIU could end up investigating a disproportionate amount of Troubles killings by police and Army.

Mr Donaldson stressed that 90% of lives lost during the Troubles were “as a consequence of triggers pulled or bombs detonated by terrorists”.

He added: “Whilst we can acknowledge and indeed empathise with the chief constable’s frustration concerning the piecemeal approach being taken around investigating unsolved Troubles-related murders, we nevertheless fundamentally disagree with him and his service making political statements.”

Mr Donaldson said that neither SEFF, nor its umbrella organisation Innocent Victims United, support the legacy structures as currently presented, stating there is “limited means to hold accountable terrorism for its crimes”.

He added: “If the NIO proceeds with launching a public consultation on the proposed legacy structures contained within the Stormont House Agreement then it needs to be an open and transparent process where government is prepared to respond to what comes back at them.”

Mr Hamilton’s robust remarks came after he wrote an open letter to elected representatives stressing the need for progress.

The PSNI was asked to comment on Mr Donaldson’s remarks but had not responded at the time of going to press.