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A betrayal of the Enniskillen dead

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 08/04/2016

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

Chief Constable George Hamilton has gained a deserved reputation for straight speaking, but even so, his message to the relatives of the victims of the Enniskillen bomb sounds quite extraordinary.

In effect, he said they were unlikely to ever see the people responsible for the terrible atrocity in a courtroom.

It was either brave or crass for Mr Hamilton to travel to Enniskillen to deliver personally this blunt message, which appears to close the door on future legal action.

Criminal proceedings against the Omagh bomb perpetrators have so far failed, but at least there was a hearing. The relatives of the victims of the Enniskillen bomb have now heard the Chief Constable suggesting that they will never get their day in court.

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the attack, and that is a very long time to have to wait for justice and to live with the wounds and the grief caused by such a dastardly act.

However long justice is delayed, it should never be denied or be allowed to appear unlikely.

The police are currently facing severe shortages in resources, and there are no doubt great difficulties in pursuing a case that is nearly 30 years old.

Nevertheless, we are still seeing, albeit in a different context, former Nazis brought to the courts for offences committed during the Second World War.

The Chief Constable has stressed on numerous occasions that trying to solve the crimes of the past puts great financial pressure in dealing with the crimes of the present. However, it must never be reduced to a hard choice of doing one but not the other.

This newspaper has consistently urged that the PSNI should be given adequate resources to do both.

A determined drive to resolve the past, with all its hurt and constant grief, has to be a priority in our attempt to settle the issue and to secure a shared peace for the future.

It must be taken to heart that the relatives of the dead and injured at Enniskillen - and all affected by the Troubles - deserve nothing less than to be able to hope and to believe that those who killed and maimed their loved ones will one day be brought to trial and convicted for their crimes.

Only then will the burden be lifted and the way made clear for a better future for everyone.

Belfast Telegraph

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