Ford: not all the Troubles' victims can have Saville-like probe
A team of detectives established to probe conflict murders in Northern Ireland is incapable of meeting the needs of all victims, the Justice Minister has said.
The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) is tasked with investigating thousands of unsolved killings since the start of the Troubles.
David Ford said not all victims could expect a Saville-style inquiry into their loved one's death but called for more work to build reconciliation.
“The HET, as the only inquiry team that we have, is incapable of meeting the needs of all victims,” he said.
“It is time that this society together engaged in the process of reconciliation and building a new way forward.”
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has said he will be seeking extra resources from Stormont to enable the HET to continue its work.
It was estimated that the team would need six years to complete the task. However, work has yet to begin on more than 1,300 cases.
Lord Saville last week exonerated the 14 people killed and more injured when paratroopers opened fire in Londonderry in 1972. His inquiry cost almost £200m and took 12 years.
Mr Ford told the Assembly: “We will never be able to give the full process of inquiry to all those who suffered and to the relatives of all those who died and that sense of loss will not be diminished by the knowledge that others have gotten justice.” He said everybody needed to address the legacy of the conflict.
The minister added: “It is time that the Assembly together engaged in the process of reconciliation and building a shared future.
“It is a great pity that those who took offence at one particular aspect of the report have been unable to look at the report in the round and see what possibilities there are.” In an Assembly debate on the Saville Report yesterday, Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney praised the generosity of the Prime Minister in his apology last week. He also welcomed First Minister Peter Robinson's acceptance of the report.
Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan said it was important that all in the Assembly yesterday cleared the names of the Bloody Sunday dead and injured.
East Londonderry Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell said the deaths were a tragedy but added that the cost of the inquiry was “deplorable and scandalous”.
He said some witnesses before the inquiry had refused to answer questions. “Almost everyone wants to move on and put the past behind us, Mr Deputy Speaker, and we must do that but some seem unable to own up to the many bloody days of their past,” he said.
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was named in the report as probably carrying a machine gun on Bloody Sunday. He has denied the suggestion.