The senior coroner in the North of Ireland has strongly criticised the PSNI after an inquest into the killing of an IRA man almost 16 years ago was delayed again.
John Leckey said it was “totally unacceptable” that risk assessments into an alleged threat to 13 PSNI men due to give evidence about the death of Pearse Jordan had not been completed.
He said police had eight months to carry out the assessments and while MI5 had taken over some responsibility for assessing any threat, the British military had “dealt promptly with all they had to do”.
Mr Leckey said blame lay “fairly and squarely” with the PSNI.
The coroner made the comments during a preliminary inquest hearing about the death of Pearse Jordan in November 1992.
The 23-year-old from west Belfast, was shot dead after the vehicle he was travelling in was rammed by an undercover RUC/PSNI unit on the Falls Road.
His family have fought a 16-year legal battle to have his killers give evidence in court.
In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the British government had failed to properly investigate the death and ordered it to carry out a new investigation.
Mr Leckey said the PSNI’s stalling tactics meant the inquest would not take place until January 2009.
“I dread to think what is going to happen in the other so-called legacy inquests when they are going to start from scratch,” he said.
The coroner set a deadline of June 6 for the risk assessments, adding that if they are not completed, “I will proceed on the basis that they do not need a risk assessment”.
Meanwhile, the Jordan family’s legal team warned that they had yet to receive certain documents, including radio logs and debriefing notes, from the PSNI which are considered crucial to the case.
Mr Jordan’s mother Teresa later expressed anger about the latest delay.
“It is unprintable how we feel about it,” she said.
Sinn Féin Policing Board member Alex Maskey described the continuing delays as ‘completely unacceptable’.
“Ever since Pearse was shot dead by the RUC in 1992 his family have fought a long battle for the truth. This struggle has been marked at every turn by concealment and cover-up by the British State and has ended up in court victories for the Jordan family in the Lords and Strasbourg.
“The delays in beginning the inquest must be seen in that context. The failure by the PSNI to comply fully and speedily with the demands of the coroner is completely unacceptable.
“Sinn Féin have raised this case repeatedly over the years and will continue to do so until the Jordan family are satisfied that they have got justice for Pearse.”
* The inquest into the death of Denis Donaldson has been adjourned until next February.
The former top Sinn Féin official, who was revealed as a British agent, was found shot dead at an isolated cottage in County Donegal more than two years ago.
The decision to adjourn the inquest was made following an application by a Garda police superintendent who said that the investigation into Mr Donaldson’s death is still ongoing.