Bloody Sunday: Majority of probe police officers to be laid off amid massive funding cuts
The majority of police investigating the shooting dead of 13 civil rights protesters by soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972 are to be laid off, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said (PSNI).
It is a result of major cuts in funding for the force due to political gridlock which is threatening powersharing institutions at Stormont.
Many of the staff were former officers employed on contracts.
A PSNI spokesman said: "As a result of current severe financial pressures, the Serious Crime Branch team investigating the deaths of people on 30 January 1972 in Derry has been advised it will be losing the majority of its investigation team.
"This will have a substantial impact on the investigation."
Thirteen marchers were shot dead on January 30 1972 in Londonderry when British paratroopers opened fire on crowds at a civil rights demonstration. Catholics were campaigning for rights like one- man one-vote.
Fourteen others were wounded, one later died. The Saville Report following a lengthy public inquiry was heavily critical of the Army and found that soldiers fired the first shot.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "deeply sorry".
Some relatives of the dead have been pressing for those who fired the shots to face justice and a fresh police probe was opened.
The senior investigating officer, detective chief inspector Ian Harrison, said he would be seeking clarification from his commanders about options for a way forward for the investigation.
He said: "We are faced with an extremely challenging set of circumstances which may well result in a reduced investigation or a delayed investigation.
"These are circumstances outside our control. We will be working to ascertain where and how our investigation sits along with our other commitments in serious crime investigations past and present.
"I have been speaking with relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday and I sympathise with their disappointment."
The PSNI has announced it would not be renewing the contracts of almost 330 temporary agency staff - a move that has forced the closure of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), a specialist unit set up to investigate unsolved Troubles killings.
Asked if more job losses were likely, PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said: "I think it is inevitable."
Stormont is wrestling with the requirement to make cut £200 million in public spending.
A significant amount of that sum - £87 million - is a penalty imposed by the Treasury for the Executive's failure to agree to implement the Government's welfare reforms.
Belfast Telegraph Digital