Police chief’s legacy warning backed by Donaldson

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton says legacy issues are taking up too much police time and resources
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton says legacy issues are taking up too much police time and resources

A warning by Northern Ireland’s police chief that unresolved legacy issues are draining the PSNI’s budget has been backed by DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldon.

Chief Constable George Hamilton made the remarks while addressing a conference to mark the 15th anniversary of the formation of the PSNI.

Mr Hamilton said unresolved post-conflict issues such as legacy investigations, flags, parades and protests were taking up too much police time and resources and sapping community confidence in policing.

When asked by the News Letter what he thought of the Province’s top officer weighing in on the subject, Sir Jeffrey said: “The chief constable is entirely within his rights to raise this issue, as it affects the operational ability of the PSNI to deal with current crime such as organised crime and paramilitary activity.”

The chief constable highlighted that, in the absence of any political solution, legacy issues “continue to be left at the door of policing and the broader criminal justice system”.

He also cautioned Executive ministers that it would be a “huge mistake” to stall on establishing structures to deal with legacy issues.

Mechanisms to address the needs of victims, and an accompanying multimillion-pound Government funding package, have been proposed as part of the Fresh Start Agreement.

But the package agreed by Stormont leaders and the UK and Irish governments has reached an impasse.

The main obstacle relates to republican concerns over how much information the UK Government will disclose on its role in the Troubles.

The stand-off is primarily between the government and Sinn Fein. However, the DUP are refusing to sign off on the funding boost for legacy inquests until all the other issues are sorted.

Sir Jeffrey added: “We are working hard to move forward with the programme to address legacy issues and we urge other parties to redouble their efforts to secure an agreement.

“This is a priority for the DUP and ought to be for all parties.

“We stand by the Stormont House Agreement and want to see it implemented in full.”