Concern over prosecution resources
Published 11/12/2012 | 00:52
Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions has expressed concern over his ability to resource fresh criminal proceedings that may emerge from the reinvestigation of historical Troubles killings, such as those on Bloody Sunday.
Barra McGrory said a specialist unit in the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) dealing with legacy cases was working at "full capacity".
He said the PPS had not yet been inundated with new files from specialist police officers investigating the deaths, such as those being examined by the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET), but suggested the PPS's workload may increase as the probes progress.
Mr McGrory said the HET and Police Ombudsman had been allocated funding to deal specifically with legacy cases.
"We haven't been given those resources," he said. "As yet there hasn't been an avalanche of work coming to us, but there has been a steady flow which impacts on our capacity - and our capacity is geared to deal with the present, it's not geared to deal with the past, yet we absorb it.
"So I have a concern, more from a resource perspective, that if we do have an avalanche of material coming at us from historical investigators then we are going to have difficulties dealing with it and we might be playing catch up, but it's very difficult to judge in advance whether or not that's going to happen."
One of the incidents that may see a sizeable file passed to prosecutors is Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.
A police team has been tasked to review the case in the wake of the Saville report which found the fatal shootings of civil rights demonstrators by British Paratroopers unjustified and unjustifiable.
"There is the potential for a very significant burden on the prosecution service arising from that investigation when it is complete, there are other historical investigations as well," said Mr McGrory.
However, the DPP indicated the completion of the Bloody Sunday reinvestigation could take some time, claiming the police team had not yet begun its work.