Dublin: Britain failing victims

Posted By: December 09, 2016

Attack over Troubles legacy issues logjam

Staff Reporter. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Irish government has launched a direct attack on the British government’s lack of progress on victims.

In an unusual public admonishment, the Irish government said it “deeply regretted” the lack of visible progress on establishing institutions to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

A statement on behalf of the coalition government said it was “deeply disappointed” and “frustrated” at the British government’s failure to establish the legacy institutions agreed two years ago in the Stormont House Agreement.

The criticism came as a watchdog voiced its concern at the slow progress in legacy inquests.

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland criticized the delays in the PSNI providing information to inquests into Troubles deaths.

“Legacy inquest proceedings have through time become adversarial rather than inquisitorial in nature. As a result, the processes to support the disclosure of sensitive and non-sensitive material in legacy inquests have become complex, convoluted and risk averse,” chief inspector Brendan McGuigan said.

“I am concerned that unless the political will to resolve the current situation becomes explicit through a combination of legislative reform, investment in IT solutions and targeted resourcing in terms of finance and staffing, the likelihood of change occurring is limited.”

Meanwhile, at Westminster, yesterday Secretary of State James Brokenshire pledged to do more to investigate attacks by republicans during the Troubles. He said the present arrangements are too focused on those killed by the state.

He described the current system as “very heavily focused on the 10 percent rather than the 90 per cent”.


Full reports ? P12 ( Below)

PSNI holding up Troubles inquests says CJI

Claire Simpson. Irish News.Thursday, December 8, 2016

INQUESTS into Troubles-era killings are being delayed by the PSNI’s “complex, convoluted and risk averse” disclosure process, a new report has found.

The report by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) raised concerns about how the PSNI manages and discloses information to the coroner.

More than 50 Troubles-related inquests, including those of 10 people shot dead by the British army in Ballymurphy in 1971, are still stuck in the coronial system.

Although some, including that of 15-year-old Manus Deery who was shot dead by the army in Derry in 1972, have gone ahead others have been held up by a lack of funds.

The CJI said that while the PSNI was “fulfilling its statutory responsibility to disclose material” inspectors recommended that police “immediately review its procedures and processes” around releasing information.

Brendan McGuigan, chief inspector of CJI, said the grief of victims’ families had been “compounded” by delays.

He said because Troubles-era inquests had become “adversarial rather than inquisitorial in nature” police processes around the disclosure of sensitive and other material have “become complex, convoluted and risk averse”.

Mr. McGuigan said if the coroner’s legal representatives became involved early on they could help make the disclosure process more efficient by assessing what available information is relevant to the inquest.

“This could be done before the material was redacted or released by the PSNI’s Legacy Support Unit,” he said.

He said such an approach would ensure “irrelevant material” was not sent to the Crown Solicitors Office for review and on to the Coroners Service.

The report also recommended the PSNI review whether it should redact information that has become public knowledge through books or the media.

It added that the PSNI’s Legacy Support Unit should preserve its data for future use within the next 18 months and should set up an administration team by the end of this financial year.

Mr. McGuigan said while more needs to be done to ensure legacy inquests are funded processes also need to be streamlined.

“I am concerned that unless the political will to resolve the current situation becomes explicit through a combination of legislative reform, investment in IT solutions and targeted resourcing in terms of finance and staffing, the likelihood of change occurring is limited,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board said it will meet Mr. McGuigan on Tuesday to discuss the report.

“Progression of the recommendations in the report will then be discussed with the chief constable,” she said.

North’s legacy families ‘face bleak future’

David Young. Irish News (Belfast). Thursday, December 8, 2016

DERRY teenager Manus Deery was shot dead by a soldier in the Bogside in Derry on May 19, 1972. An inquest into the 15-year-old’s killing is one of the few legacy inquests to have gone ahead

FAMILIES waiting for long-delayed legacy inquests face a bleak future unless the

political will is found to deliver stalled reforms of the coronial system, Northern Ireland’s leading criminal justice inspector has warned.

Brendan McGuigan, chief inspector with Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI), highlighted the “transformative” potential of a new unit proposed by the region’s top judge as he published a report on the police’s role in the slow-moving process.

Around 50 legacy cases, some relating to Troubles killings 45 years ago, have yet to be heard.

In February Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan proposed that a specialist unit be set up that could deal with the cases within five years.

However, politicians have yet to agree to stump up the £10 million needed to fund the process.

“The key to unlocking this is an additional resource to support the initiative that I think the lord chief justice has shown great leadership on,” Mr. McGuigan said.

“This is a once-in-a-generational opportunity to really move these issues on.

“Without these, it’s very bleak. I think we will have more of the same and I think the frustration and hurt and feelings of families will not be dealt with at all.”

The money to fund the new unit will be accessed as part of a government financial package addressing a range of issues related to the north’s toxic past.

The package of mechanisms to deal with the wider legacy of the Troubles is stuck in the starting blocks due to a dispute between Sinn Féin and the government on the potential of state papers being withheld from families on the grounds of national security.

While the row relates to the workings of a new historical investigations unit, the DUP has refused to sign off on funding the outstanding inquests until the consensus is reached on all aspects of the package.

In recent years police have faced heavy criticism for the time they take to security vet and disclose documents to the coroner.

Former justice minister David Ford asked the CJINI to assess the cause of the logjams.

Mr. McGuigan said that while the PSNI was fulfilling its statutory responsibility to disclose material, a number of factors were causing delays around case progression.