Stormont House Agreement ‘will create theme of misconduct’ against RUC

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Proposed legacy structures recommended to MPs this week will “undermine the state” by developing an unfair narrative of non-criminal misconduct against former RUC officers without the right to a fair hearing, it is claimed.

Ken Funston, Advocacy Manager with victims group the South East Fermanagh Foundation, was speaking after a special panel of expert advisors on the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) gave evidence to MPs at the NI Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Professors of law Kieran McEvoy and Louise Mallinder from Queens University Belfast and Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, warned MPs that time was running out to implement the (SHA), which proposes four bodies to address the legacy of the Troubles.

Mr Holder told MPs that under the SHA, Ex-RUC officers will be investigated for alleged serious breeches of their code of conduct even if not of a criminal nature. As terrorists had no code of conduct there would be no equivalent investigation into them, he added.

Mr Funston noted that when asked by MPs if he accepted that 90% of Troubles killings were by terrorists, Mr Holder accepted this, but added that within that 90% ‘there would be state culpability in those cases as well’.

Mr Funston therefore expressed concern that the SHA bodies “will be primarily directed against the state”.

Noting that the trio of experts told MPs that the SHA would bring few prosecutions, Mr Funston added: “Therefore the best way to undermine the state is to introduce the likes of ‘non-criminal misconduct’ that will not reach a criminal evidential threshold. It will not be contestable by those accused and will appear in any final report given to families of the deceased.”

The victims advocate expressed concern that all such allegations of non-criminal misconduct against ex-RUC officers would then be collated to formulate an over arching “theme” of RUC misconduct by the SHA bodies.

Mr Holder also expressed concern to MPs at the lack of prosecutions for 189 people killed by the security forces from 1969-1974.

But Mr Funston said this presumed a high level of criminality by the security forces and did not mention that many fatalities would relate to terrorists firing on police and army. Mr Holder also failed to mention, he said, that terrorists carried out almost six times as many murders in the same period, 1070, of which “the vast majority remain unsolved”.