‘No intention to probe murder of RUC officers’

Northern Ireland Office Junior Minister Kris Hopkins. 'Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons
Northern Ireland Office Junior Minister Kris Hopkins. 'Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons

Regardless of Northern Ireland Office claims on the matter, there is no intention at present time to probe murders of security force members, it is claimed.

Last week in Westminster Junior Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister Kris Hopkins praised the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) with regards to its potential for investigation Troubles murders.

He said it would take each case in turn and would probe the murder of hundreds of soldiers by terrorists. By contrast, however, he went on to say that “without reform of the current mechanisms, around 185 murders of soldiers, not to mention the many murders of RUC members, will not be investigated”.

Mr Hopkins’ comments are confusing as they came shortly after PSNI ACC Mark Hamilton said the current PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) would eventually review every Troubles murder.

The News Letter asked the NIO whether Mr Hopkins meant that cases already reviewed by PSNI Historical Enquiries Team would not be probed by LIB. A spokesman did not offer any specific details on that question, but directed the News Letter to the PSNI for clarification.

Instead, the NIO said that the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland currently focuses almost exclusively on the state. The HIU, has “the potential” to make things better for victims by investigating all cases in chronological order, meaning that “hundreds of murders caused by terrorists will be investigated” he said.

But Ken Funston of South East Fermanagh Foundation was sceptical. “I’m not sure whether Kris Hopkins put that statement out deliberately to get a response. The reality is no matter what may happen in the future, no-one has any intention at the present time to look at murders of members of the security forces, regardless of what may transpire. The statement from the NIO is either meant to be misleading, or else uninformed.”

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said victims require confidence in Government and the justice system to be rebuilt before they can support HIU.