The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has called on the current leadership of the PSNI to respond robustly to challenge the notion that members of either the PSNI or RUC GC are incapable of investigating the past.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“During a lengthy session of the Assembly’s justice committee last week the Chief Constable made it clear - regardless of what the Justice department says or indeed the Northern Ireland Office – that his Police Officers and those who served in the RUC GC would not be welcome in any new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU). His rationale was simple enough, in that if the PSNI are seen as organisationally and hierarchically independent but not seen to be practically independent to investigate our past, how can they form part of a HIU that is intent on investigating the past?
“This does two things - firstly and disgracefully it undermines those who served bravely and proudly in the RUC GC and secondly it undermines those who now serve in the PSNI.
“Without a doubt those who lost loved ones in the Troubles deserve truth and justice. It is important that the state ensures this happens but in doing so they cannot prejudge individuals who may or may not have served in the police, military or intelligence services.
“The terms of reference for the ‘Glennane Series’ of investigations states its review team ‘Will not include any personnel who are serving or have previously served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary or PSNI, the Ministry of Defence or HM Armed Forces or any of the Security or Intelligence Services’. This prejudges individuals – even those who never even served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles – as being in some way biased. Yet at the same time, we as a society, do not bat an eyelid at convicted terrorists being part of the policing board!
“Where are we going to draw the line? If former Chief Constable Jon Boutcher employs an individual on the review team who is from Birmingham, Manchester, London or Warrington where the IRA conducted a vicious bombing campaign, will he be open to a charge of bias? Will the very act of keeping the Chief Constable up to date by this review team be seen as bias, because after all, the team will be looking for ‘Any deficiencies in any previous investigations into or official responses to each of those cases.’ And if none are found you can bet well funded and self-styled ‘Human Rights’ Lawyers will challenge the findings.
“Even the fact that the PSNI are using the term ‘State Collusion’ when the Attorney General says this should not be used as a descriptor, gives you an idea as to what the outcome is likely to be at the end of this review.
“It will not merely be enough to provide much needed truth and justice for victims; it will have to completely undermine the RUC GC, a force that stood between the terrorists and the terrorised with professionalism, courage and dedication. It will also shamefully and disgracefully leave our present police force open to charges of bias in the future as the new batch of violent republican terrorists latch onto this self-imposed label of being a police force that is not independent enough to investigate our past.
“Before any more sub-letting of investigations take place, or before any ill thought out HIU is enacted, it is time Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) revisited their decision from July 2013 that ended the Historical Enquiries Team and set this chain of events in motion.”