Ruth Dudley Edwards points out that the DPP in Northern Ireland is often caught at the centre of events in Northern Ireland in which it is all too easy to project him and his office as the favoured fall guys in broader circumstances for which he has little or no responsibility…
…although there were criticisms that the collapse of the case against Daly was the fault of the PPS, it’s clear that it could neither have predicted nor prevented a mysterious change of evidence from a key witness who had not been under its protection.
The Chief Constable (not just this one, but all of them in the Peace Process era). She notes that George Hamilton told a victims conference last week that many of them felt that…
…investigations into the murders of their loved ones are being “shunted to the side while other cases, many of which involved State actors, seem to be getting progressed”.
However, the choice of targets for the PSNI’s legacy investigation branch “is largely determined by circumstances outside my control”.
Under the 2002 Criminal Justice Act “there is a duty on me, when requested by the Director of Public Prosecutions, to supply information, to ascertain facts and report to him”.
This was, he explained, effectively “an investigation… and it is actually in those cases that the majority of my legacy investigations branch officers are occupied at the moment”. Resources were finite, but “I have no option but to fulfil those legal obligations”.
She concludes that due process generally gets followed and that the DPP have to “engage in greater communication with victims of terrorists than would otherwise be the case, to ensure the PPS has the confidence of all sections of Northern Ireland’s community.”
Like the poor oversight of the PSNI by the Policing Board, our politicians always seem keen to blame anyone but themselves when it comes to anything remotely controversial.