A victims’ organisation has expressed concern at comments made by a Policing Board member, who suggested former RUC officers will have no part in investigating Troubles-related murders.
Speaking at a question and answer session following a screening of the film Ballymurphy – about the eleven people shot by soldiers in that area of Belfast in 1971 – Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn said ex-RUC would not be eligible for the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU). The HIU has been established to replace the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), but will not be operational for two years.
Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United (IVU) said it has repeatedly warned that meeting the “ideological demands” of republicanism – regarding the “the non-acceptability of former security force members” in the HIU – would be unacceptable. Mr Donaldson also said they had received assurances from both DUP and UUP representatives that their parties would not support the HIU if such “inbuilt politically-motivated discrimination,” was evident.
A video of Mr Lunn’s comments at the Q&A panel discussion in May, involving members of the Ballymurphy Massacre Committee, has been posted online. He told the audience: “PSNI have confirmed that it will take two years to train up officers. It appears that they won’t be able to use officers who might have something to contribute to this to form an effective Historical Inquiries Unit”.
On Sunday night Mr Lunn said: “Whilst I don’t recall commenting about this issue on the night in question, it is an issue that has been raised in discussions about the HET’s replacement. Ex-RUC officers may have a contribution to make, even if they are not employed officially as part of the unit.”
Earlier this year, chief constable George Hamilton said the HIU will take on the criminal justice element of investigating the past, while a separate truth recovery system will offer bereaved relatives the chance to learn more about their loved ones’ deaths, but without any prospect of a court conviction.