Making haste slowly in dealing with the past

In the words of the old witticism, in dealing with the past  there’s no Northern Ireland equivalent  to the Spanish  mañana  that has quite the same sense  of urgency, despite the £30 million earmarked for  legacy issues by the Stormont  House agreement. Or is that too bleak a view?

Patricia Bell (67), is seeking to challenge the estimated 2025 target date for a Police Ombudsman report into the circumstances surrounding her father’s death. Patrick Murphy was shot dead on his 63rd birthday in November 1982. He was shot as he served customers at his general grocer’s shop on Mount Merrion Road in Belfast. Peter Coll QC told the court the deal could be “a game-changer” in both the Murphy and Benstead cases. “I’m instructed this morning it’s anticipated that the HIU will be established and operational by the summer of 2016,” he said. A five-year timescale for completing inquiries transferred over the unit remains in place, the court was told. Both legal challenges are still expected to proceed at a later date.

A NEW independent body for investigating Troubles killings could take two years to start work, the chief constable has said.

George Hamilton said he was anticipating an 18 to 24 month time frame for legislation required to create the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (HIU). He pledged that, in the meantime, the PSNI’s newly-assembled Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) would pursue the cases in a professional and determined manner and would not repeat the mistakes of its controversial predecessor, the Historical Enquiries Team.

The PSNI’s response to  judicial review in legacy cases such as the Glenanne murders may have some effect. For post 1998 crime, it’s also encouraging it looks as if agreement is about to be reached on allowing the National Crime Agency to operate in NI.

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  • Tacapall

    “George Hamilton said he was anticipating an 18 to 24 month time frame
    for legislation required to create the proposed Historical Investigations Unit (HIU)”

    As opposed to the SDLP act of treason being forwarded by David Ford today.

    “He is expected to spell out details to MLAs today, and explain that legislation allowing the NCA to operate here could be in place before May’s general election”

    Says it all.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    HET mutates to LIB mutates to HIU mutates to NCA – different names for the same lies. Does anyone actually believe the PSNI/RUC/UDR want the truth to come out on Glenanne? State sponsored and sanctioned death squads. George Hamilton can kiss my proverbial – he has no interest in truth and justice for historic crimes. We should stop kidding ourselves and just draw a line under things and try and move on. The only thing worse than people living with these historical atrocities is giving them some sort of misplaced hope that the government and their underlings give a damn about truth and justice. It’s bloody shameful.

  • Tacapall

    “If the NCA are accountable to the same high standards as the PSNI”

    Morpheus if you want me to believe the PSNI is accountable then post me up evidence of any member of the RUC being held accountable for assisting in the murder of citizens of this state . Oh and by the way there is already a secret unaccountable police force on the loose in Ireland – MI5

  • Tacapall

    I dont think you get the point Morpheus, if the PSNI are not accountable today then how will some crime agency controlled by the British home office be accounatable. You do realise the SDLP and Sinn Fein are supposed to be both Irish republican parties and both wish to see the end of British rule in Ireland yet here we have the SDLP negotiating a foriegn crime agency controlled by the British be allowed to operate in this part of Ireland.

  • Neil

    It is understood the NCA will be subject to the same Code of Ethics that applies to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

    A code of ethics? Subject to? Leave aside “understood”, a word who’s inclusion can be translated as everything else in this paragraph may or may not be nonsense. I wonder is it easier or harder to murder someone if you are “understood” to be “bound” by a “code of ethics”?

    The police ombudsman will also have full power to investigate the body.

    And the body will have the right to respond “in the interests of national security we will not cooperate”. See below.

    It is also believed the NCA’s director general will be accountable to the Policing Board on matters relating to Northern Ireland.

    Ooops. “Believed” in this context means the same as “understood” in the first paragraph. Assuming the best though, how difficult will it be for Teresa May to decide that any republican activity deemed to be a threat to the peace process (read “dissident” or whatever the Shinners/May decide to be “dissident” behaviour) can be construed as a threat to national security and hence not a matter relating solely to NI.

    In short I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could thrown them (not far) and based on the information available I have no reason to revisit that position.

  • Tacapall

    Indeed Neil we’ve been fooled too many times, its got to the point the whole wide world except certain Irish politicians know – Never ever trust the British or their agents, they care nothing about human rights or the law, the needs of the British establishment will always come first.

  • NotNowJohnny

    TAC…. dealing in ideologies is all well and good but the reality is that both SF and the SDLP now recognise that NI is part of the UK until a majority decide otherwise (as agreed by an overwhelming majority of the Irish people voting). Therefore your reference to a “foriegn (sic) crime agency” does not really contribute anything to meaningful debate. The reality is that much has been done to make the PSNI more accountable than the RUC ever was; indeed it has been said that the PSNI is one of the most accountable police services in the world. Perhaps you have suggestions as to what changes should be made to the accountability arrangements currently in place in respect of the PSNI that would ensure your satisfaction.

  • Tacapall

    Well for a start Johnny if they could do the job they are employed to do rather than turning a blind eye to murderers within its ranks, we all know there is many former special branch officers now with the PSNI and MI5 and we all know how special branch officers were the puppet masters who pulled the strings of many of those who pulled the triggers in many many murders. You can claim the PSNI is the most accountable police force in the world all you like but the evidence doesn’t back up ypour claim perhaps you should read through all of Brians post before you make that claim and I could add plenty more instances of my own like Pat Finucane, Ormeau Rd bookies, Rosemary Nelson or Sammy Devenny beaten to death by RUC officers and who’s files were re-classified until 2022. I could go on but whats the point if you believe the PSNI or the NCA or that MI5 is accountable to the Irish people then hopefully you wont be one of those families that will be ignored and fobbed off until their all dead.

    Johnny the Irish people voted for the arrangements outlined in the GFA, like mandatory powersharing, now its being changed to an opposition, are we allowed a referendum on that on both sides of the border ? I dont remember anything about any NCA being in there either, I remember promises made about a human rights act, Irish language act, we’re still waiting on those yet strangely this is okay –

    Johnny there is no chance ever I will accept a British police force in Irelland that is not accountable only to the Irish people. Is that too much to ask ?

  • NotNowJohnny

    TAC, it’s unfortunate that your response appears more akin
    to a rant rather than a serious attempt to engage in debate. However a few points in response:

    1. I didn’t claim the PSNI was the most accountable
    police force in the world
    2. I didn’t make any reference to the NCA or MI5
    3. The Human Rights Act is in place in Northern Ireland.
    4, It’s unfortunate that those elected to do deals on behalf of the Irish people didn’t insist on an Irish Language Act with the same conviction as they did in ensuring that their party interests and those of their members were protected.
    5. I’m well aware of the incidents which the RUC is alleged to have been involved in during the conflict. I therefore welcome the development of a new police service here which is much more accountable than the RUC and which has the support of the wider community here.
    6. I’m not sure if your last point is a statement or a question.
    7. I look forward to your suggestions as to how the accountability of the PSNI might be improved or what your alternative to the PSNI is

  • Croiteir

    Is there anything that the nationalists parties have failed to get implimented and yet they still participate in Stormont? What do you expect from a police force that 8 years after Patton thought that they would have 50/50 representation they still have only 30% nationalist representation? They have no interest in bringing their police comrades to trial, they would sooner bring them in to the station for a job. Why are SF and the SDLP allowing this farce to continue, never mind abstention from Westminster abstain from Stormont until this is sorted.

  • Tacapall

    Johnny thanks for your detailed methodical response.

    1 You did claim the PSNI were said to be one of the most accountable police forces in the world.

    2 No you did not but you did respond to the post I made about the NCA.

    3 Touché, thats a new one someone needs to explain this to the British.

    4 Read the SAA

    5 Alledged, that should be illegal like denying the holocaust.

    6 alledged says it all

    7 Once again when the PSNI start arresting and charging all those police officers who colluded in the murder of citizens of this state then I may think differently and the Garda Siochana would be the proper police force of Ireland.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Apart from making the assumption that you are not a lawyer and noting that you have still not suggested any improvements to the accountability arrangements for the PSNI (despite your clear concerns over the current arrangements), I have no further points to make.

  • Neil

    Interesting thoughts Neil, do you think the NCA targeting the worst of the worst, loyalist or republican, is a bad thing?

    I’d be much more worried about the NCA targeting the innocent but politically inconvenient. The worst of the worst, loyalist or republican know what they’re getting into. Something makes me a bit itchy about the Tories having a police force effectively accountable only to them operating in NI.

    We shall see. The SDLP have taken a decision on behalf of the entire Nationalist community (with a mandate of 16.5% of 57.6% of the electorate). At least we know they can be held accountable for their actions at the ballot box, should things not pan out as they hope.