PSNI cooperation with investigations in doubt

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Sinn Fein has condemned the Police Federation in the North (PFNI) after it warned that current and former members of the PSNI/RUC police would not cooperate with the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly said for police to refuse to co-operate with legally constituted bodies dealing with the legacy of the conflict was “appalling”.

He challenged the federation to clarify whether its members are currently withholding information about past crimes.

Mr Kelly added: “The Police Federation is supposed to be engaged in upholding the rule of law, yet here we have them warning that they will have no part in legal mechanisms which were agreed at Stormont House and which are a central part of proposed new legislation to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

“The Police Federation’s stance is in direct contravention to everything that human-rights compliant and accountable policing should stand for.”

A separate appeal by four former British Direct Rulers to abandon legacy investigations was described as a betrayal of victims by Sinn Fein’s Linda Dillon.

They are part of a group of Westminster House of Lords who have argued that investigating past British war crimes, such as Bloody Sunday, should not be a focus of the legacy process.

The letter says it would be a “mistake” to expect a judicial outcome in “any but a tiny percentage of crimes that have not already been dealt with”.

Their letter was issued by Peter Hain and was co-signed by his predecessor Tom King, John Reid and Paul Murphy, as well as former Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames and Chris Patten, who oversaw police reform in the north. All the signatories were awarded lordships and use the title ‘Lord’.

Sinn Fein victims spokeswoman said an emphasis by the peers on cash compensation over investigation missed the point “because victims are entitled to both”.

“The families are not naive and have stated repeatedly that even where there is no expectation of prosecution the investigative process for them is as much about establishing the truth of how their loved ones died,” Ms Dillon said.

“Some of these families have been waiting nearly 50 years for the truth about what happened to their loved ones and this letter signed by four previous British Secretaries of State is proposing closing down that option to them.”

Ms Dillon said the mechanisms in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement were “key to addressing the legacy of the conflict here and they must be implemented in a human rights compliant manner”.

SDLP policing and justice spokeswoman Dolores Kelly said the two elements of the legacy process were not mutually exclusive. “Legacy is not an a la cart menu, where you can pick and choose what outcome suits you on any given day.”

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