Irish Republican News · December 6, 2014
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: PSNI determined to defend RUC killers
PSNI determined to defend RUC killers

harrisgillespie.jpg

The purpose of a new ‘legacy’ body to investigate past state killings in the conflict is being questioned after PSNI police chiefs said they were determined to defend the actions of their retired colleagues.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the PSNI leadership has been giving ‘information seminars’ to PSNI (formerly RUC) figures who may be asked to give evidence at inquests and other legal proceedings.

Further details about the briefings were revealed last week during a preliminary inquest hearing into the deaths of six people in the targeted ‘shoot-to-kill’ ambushes and assassinations of the 1980s.

During the inquest hearing Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris denied suggestions that the PSNI is “protecting” former police involved in controversial killings. However, notes from the briefings in 2012 reveal that during one meeting, Mr Harris told retired police “we don’t disassociate ourselves from what happened in the past”.

Harris told those present he had “great pride” in his RUC role, and “if there is something we can do to put an allegation in a proper light, we will”.

Former deputy chief constable Judith Gillespie - whose office organised the seminars - also told the former RUC, “legacy is one of the defining issues of our future”.

“We are all proud of our service in the RUC,” she said. “The PSNI is determined to play our part in the defence of the RUC.”

PROTECT ‘OUR PEOPLE’

During a question and answer session in November 2012, Ms Gillespie - who retired earlier this year - was also asked would she “protect” the RUC. Her response was the damning. “Our interests are all the same”, she said, and any “conflicts of interest” would be “managed”.

A member of the PSNI’s legal team added reassurance. “(The) bedrock of what we are trying to do is protect our people -- to protect the reputation of the organisation and to protect people’s security,” the official said.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said the PSNI displays “little awareness of the credibility gap” over the reputation of the RUC and its notorious Special Branch.

This week it was announced that the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team will cease to exist on December 31 and will be replaced by a ‘Legacy Investigation Unit’ early in the New Year.

Sinn Fein’s Pat Sheehan said the proposed new PSNI unit could not be trusted.

“Public confidence is a key element in dealing with the past and this proposed new body cannot command that confidence,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that the new organisation that is going to be established now does not fulfil, in our view, the obligations under Article Two (European Court of Human Rights), particularly in respect of independence of investigations,” he said.

© 2014 Irish Republican News