Former PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde last night urged “more imagination and risk-taking” by Northern Ireland’s political leaders to achieve the devolution of policing and justice.
Stormont’s big two parties — the DUP and Sinn Fein — are involved in a stand-off, unable to agree a date for the transfer of powers.
Delivering the Lord Longford lecture in London, Sir Hugh, now President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), also addressed the dissident republican threat.
He told the audience: “I am convinced that despite those who are currently doing what they can to wreck all that has been achieved, the province will continue to move forward in what is now a very difficult endgame.”
Sir Hugh used his lecture to explain the work of the Historical Enquiries Team.
He said achieving a lasting peace meant “the difficult territory of the past had to be confronted”.
Almost 600 reviews have now been completed by HET and more than 900 families have engaged in the process.
“In October a delegation of Russian and Chechen representatives spent three days in Northern Ireland observing the team at first hand,” Sir Hugh revealed. He described the Eames/Bradley report as “a thoughtful and important piece of work”, but added that “it requires co-operation from ex-combatants to be really effective”.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has already ruled out republican co-operation with the Eames/Bradley proposed Legacy Commission, and senior loyalists have said a choice must be made between truth recovery and continuing investigations. “In my judgment the work of the HET represents a genuine and committed attempt by the PSNI to try and help families of victims of the Troubles find a measure of resolution,” Sir Hugh said.
Additional funds would be needed to allow it to complete its work.
“I am determined we should achieve this as we owe it to those people patiently waiting with great dignity for their case to be re-opened,” he said.