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Northern Ireland's victims have waited long enough

By Brian Rowan

Published 26/06/2015

The Historical Enquiries Team has gone, replaced now by a PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch, and the wait is for a new Historical Investigations Unit, part of what was proposed in the Stormont House Agreement
The Historical Enquiries Team has gone, replaced now by a PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch, and the wait is for a new Historical Investigations Unit, part of what was proposed in the Stormont House Agreement

The heading on the news release from the Wave Trauma Centre was 'Bereaved Still Waiting For Answers'. It has been a long, long wait.

The statement was a response to a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the latest look at legacy investigations here.

The Historical Enquiries Team has gone, replaced now by a PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch, and the wait is for a new Historical Investigations Unit, part of what was proposed in the Stormont House Agreement.

It has become stuck in the latest political disagreements and, in the Wave news release, you read a growing mood of frustration.

You read it also in Chief Constable George Hamilton's response to the HMIC report: "It is my view that the PSNI continue to bear the brunt of a broader failure to deal with the past."

Trying to agree a process goes back to 2007 and the Eames/Bradley consultation. Then there was the gap to the Haass/O'Sullivan talks, followed by the Stormont House negotiations. The wait now is for implementation - doing what was decided.

In relation to the past, it means that Historical Investigations Unit, an independent commission on information retrieval and an implementation and reconciliation group.

"We understand the pressure that the PSNI is under dealing with the past and can only hope that the Historical Investigations Unit envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement will have the resources to work effectively," said Sandra Peake of the Wave Trauma Centre.

"In the meantime, the bereaved victims and survivors have to wait. They were told to wait for the outworking of Eames/Bradley. They were told to wait for the outworking of Haass/O'Sullivan. Now Stormont House. It has to deliver." The mood is captured in those few sentences.

The Wave Centre has campaigned for a pension for those injured in the conflict period.

In its garden, people plant trees and flowers to remember the dead.

And now it waits for that process on the past to begin to grow out of the seeds of that Stormont House Agreement.

  • Brian Rowan is a writer on security issues

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