” Trying to pre-empt Haass?”

Posted By: September 25, 2013

Brian Feeney excoriates the NI police for attempting yet again to cover up British State killings. And wonders if it could also be an attempt to pre-empt Haass.


Brian Feeney. (Irish News). Wednesday, September 24, 2013
THE PSNI has announced it is going to ‘review’ thirteen British army killings that had been the subject of an HET[Historical Enquiries Team] review. This decision is stupid. It’s uncalled for, crass and provocative. In response to objections from the relatives of those killed the PSNI issued a statement. It said: “This is an informative review to assess if any evidential opportunities have been lost and to inform deliberations as to the future direction of the HET.” The statement oozes arrogance and condescension. Of course it’s meaningless, it intendeds to be, which serves to infuriate the families concerned even more than the decision itself.Just to remind you. The inspector of constabulary found that the procedures used by the HET for examining, ‘reviewing’, military killings was illegal. Ex-soldiers were given preferential treatment compared to other alleged perpetrators. The HET’s reviewing of military killings was suspended and the HET head is leaving after a stand-up row between the chief constable and the Policing Board. The fact is that the HET is dead. How on earth any internal PSNI review could possibly ‘inform deliberations as to the future direction of the HET’ is a mystery to anyone outside the senior management of the PSNI. Relatives of people the British army killed are not going to cooperate. Not only that, they will not accept any outcome the PSNI presents because they are convinced the people investigating the killings are seeded with ex-Special Branch officers and retired RUC personnel. In protesting against the decision the Pat Finucane Centre has warned that: “If the chief constable chooses to push ahead with this against the wishes of families he will find himself on a collision course that will lead to litigation and will have a damaging effect on the climate of current policing.” There’s another aspect which objectors have so far not mentioned, and it’s this. The PSNI decision prejudices any outcome which the Haass talks may arrive at on dealing with the past. The HET was established mainly to fulfil European Court of Human Rights decisions that British governments had failed to investigate state killings. The HET has now been shown to have conspicuously failed in that regard. The PSNI was regarded in the first place as unacceptable because of the involvement of former RUC personnel so police from English forces were drafted in to meet that objection. Now the PSNI has decided they’re going to go back to square one and show they’re unacceptable again. Bizarre. What we’re seeing here is a power grab by the NIO and the police. Fairly confident that Haass will fail to produce anything on the legacy of the Troubles our clueless proconsul[theresa Villiers, Secrearty of State for Northern Ireland] jumped in on September 6 and unilaterally set her boundaries. No inquiries and no money for any effective system of coping with the demands of relatives and people still traumatised. Together with the PSNI decision our proconsul’s NIO-prompted move is a clear attempt to take ownership and control of investigation of the killings since 1969. The botched attempt to prevent release of forty-year-old papers has to be seen in that context. Of course it’s all one with the culture of secrecy cherished by the British state which this year had to agree to pay compensation to Kenyans tortured in the 1950s after the discovery of documents the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO]had successfully hidden for decades. That doesn’t take any account of the tons of documents the FCO destroyed which would reveal some notion of how many thousand Kenyans the British army and their native African regiments killed.However, back to the question. If the PSNI was deemed a body unacceptable for investigating military killings or indeed other killings the RUC failed to deal with so that the HET had to be set up as a separate unit in 2005, how is it that eight years later the PSNI chief constable thinks the PSNI has become an acceptable body for investigating military killings? Arising from that, why is it so essential for the PSNI to grab ownership of the investigation now, before the future of the HET or its replacement is determined? Is it as crude as trying to pre-empt Haass or is it just simple arrogance and stupidity?