PSNI disappointed at failure to address legacy of Troubles in Stormont deal

PSNI
PSNI

A senior police commander has welcomed the latest Stormont deal but expressed disappointment it did not include steps to address the legacy of the Troubles.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said an additional £160 million of Government funding to tackle dissident republicans was much needed.

The financial commitment represents a continuation of extra Treasury support that has been offered to the PSNI since 2011.

Mr Harris said the Fresh Start agreement’s initiatives to tackle paramilitarism and organised crime were also positive.

However, the senior officer said the lack of consensus on new mechanisms to deal with the past was a disappointment not only to the police, but also to many bereaved families.

A proposed new independent Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), which would have taken on the PSNI’s responsibility for outstanding Troubles murder investigations, has not yet been approved.

An impasse between Sinn Fein and the UK Government over the disclosure of classified documents remains an obstacle in the way of establishing the HIU.

In lieu of consensus, the PSNI’s Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) will continue to carry out the probes.

Arguably the most high-profile case the LIB is currently working on is the murder investigation into the British Army killings of 14 civil rights demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.

Mr Harris said: “In relation to legacy issues, it is disappointing for the PSNI, and indeed for many grieving families, that no final agreement on dealing with the past has yet been reached.

“We are on record as saying the formation of a Historical Investigations Unit would provide an opportunity for a more structured and coherent approach to dealing with the past, allowing the PSNI to concentrate primarily on keeping people safe today.”