Troubles murder reviews ‘pass over’ soldiers from Britain

Craig Agar, son of murdered serviceman Thomas Agar, said British troops had 'been pushed away ... to suit political agendas'
Craig Agar, son of murdered serviceman Thomas Agar, said British troops had 'been pushed away ... to suit political agendas'

The PSNI’s review of historical Troubles cases has “passed over” many murders because they were security force personnel from Great Britain, it has been claimed.

The claim has been made by Craig Agar, whose father Thomas was one of three English soldiers killed by an IRA bomb in Enniskillen in 1984.

“Around the time my father was murdered there were a number of other killings that were dealt with by years before they even talked to me,” he told the News Letter.

The PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) first contacted him in 2012 to begin the investigation into his father’s killing, he said.

Some six to eight months later HET contacted him to say the unit had stopped all investigations after a damning investigation by HM Inspectorate of Constabularies.

Since 2012 Craig has rung the PSNI regularly.

He said: “They say they are not allowed to look in dad’s box due to funding shortages. But I think British soldiers have yet again been pushed away and made to feel like nothing to suit political agendas.

“There were over 600 soldiers killed in Northern Ireland. There is a storm coming if their cases are being passed over, because there are 24 police officers still investigating Bloody Sunday.

“How many are investigating the Poppy Day bombing? How many are investigating my father’s case?”

Mr Agar and other victims put their concerns to Minister of State for Northern Ireland Ben Wallace MP in a meeting facilitated by Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) on Monday.

Kenny Donaldson of SEFF told Mr Wallace that the off-duty soldiers murdered with Mr Agar in 1984 have had their case “effectively passed over” and that “there appears to be a trend” in how murders of such soldiers are being treated.

Det Supt Jason Murphy, from the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB), said his unit now handles HET cases. These are managed and progressed using a case sequencing model, taking a number of factors into consideration, he said.

“LIB has other significant work in addition to these reviews, including the response to the Hallett review into ‘On the Runs’, the investigation following on from the Saville Inquiry and investigation into the Boston College Tapes.”

HET completed 1,615 cases of which 398 were military victims, he said. Of the 942 outstanding cases, which now sit with LIB, 139 would be military victims.

The PSNI could not clarify how many of the military victims were from Great Britain.