Scores of killings by the RUC police in the North may not be properly investigated due to a lack of resources at the Police Ombudsman’s office, it has emerged.
It has emerged that cases involving the RUC will not be investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which has begun examining 100 unsolved killings.
All cases involving the police and dating from before 1998 have instead been handed to Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s office. Human rights groups have now called for the British government to pour resources into the office so that an investigating team can begin its work.
British officials have confirmed that negotiations over the money needed to revisit the police cases are ongoing.
Originally it had been thought that up to 48 deaths involving the RUC before 1998 would be handled by Ms O’Loan’s office. However, it is now understood that the total number of cases could rise above that.
Ms O’Loan has already gone on record as stating that the extra caseload arising from the investigation of disputed killings involving RUC officers would mean a substantial drain on already stretched resources.
“I don’t know how many there are yet,” she said in November. “I think it could double [the existing historical cases total].”
Human rights activist Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre has accused the British government of blocking progress towards reopening the cases.
He suggested that “dirty tricks” could be scuppering the reinvestigation of these controversial deaths.
“What we are left with now is a totally ridiculous situation whereby someone who was killed by the UVF in July 1969 will have their death investigated, but someone who was killed by the RUC in July 1969 must continue to wait for the funding to be made available to get their answers.”
Mr. O’Connor said it was the opinion of the Pat Finucane Centre that, by not releasing the necessary funds to allow the Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, to investigate such cases, the British government is “guilty of non cooperation” with ongoing investigations.
“As far as we are concerned, everything that can be done to block such investigations is being done.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson Raymond McCartney has also voiced his concerns over the investigations process, saying it is “hamstrung before it even started”.