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Police chief angry over new deal's failure to resolve past

By Rebecca Black

Published 04/12/2015

Frustration: George Hamilton
Frustration: George Hamilton

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has warned Stormont he will not allow the PSNI to be made a "scapegoat for political failure".

He told a meeting of the Policing Board yesterday of his disappointment that politicians had not dealt with the past in the recent Fresh Start Agreement, claiming that almost 1,000 cases were outstanding.

The agreement reached between the DUP and Sinn Fein, along with the British and Irish Governments, parked the issue of how to deal with the past.

It is now unclear if the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) will even be formed.

Mr Hamilton said the failure would have "significant" implications for the PSNI financially and in terms of public confidence.

He added he had allocated 70 staff - including 55 investigators - to the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch, but said it was never designed to be a long term solution - just an interim stopgap until the HIU was formed.

Mr Hamilton also revealed that among the 1,000 cases the Legacy Investigations Branch is facing are probes into Bloody Sunday, the Military Reaction Force, the Boston College tapes and 'on the runs'.

There are also five referrals from the Director of Public Prosecutions, and 937 incomplete historical enquiries that will now not be moved to the HIU.

"I am absolutely not saying that the past should not be reviewed and investigated," the Chief Constable said.

"But, I am repeating a point that I have made on many occasions before - the public services of today, including the Police Service, are not set up or suitably resourced to respond to the demands of dealing with the past.

"While the PSNI will never shirk its responsibilities, I will not allow my organisation to become the scapegoat for political failure to reach an agreement on this critical issue."

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