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PSNI still in the dark over plans for dealing with legacy issues, says Chief Constable


Legislation: Simon Byrne

Legislation: Simon Byrne

Legislation: Simon Byrne

The PSNI has yet to see any plans for new measures to investigate Northern Ireland's troubled past, the Chief Constable has said.

As part of the deal to restore the Assembly, the Government agreed to implement the 2015 Stormont House Agreement within 100 days.

This includes introducing legislation for an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), which would operate independently of the PSNI.

At a meeting of the Policing Board on Thursday Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly pressed PSNI chief Simon Byrne on why there had been no developments after 54 days.

Mr Byrne said: "As things stand today, no one has been in touch with us in terms of putting legislation in front of us or sense of a plan.

"I was able to raise this personally with the Secretary of State on Thursday evening, who gave some reassurance that legislation would be forthcoming before the 100-day deadline, but I can't say yet what's in it and therefore what our response would be."

Mr Byrne said it was a well-rehearsed argument that the PSNI wanted to be removed from the responsibility of investigating legacy crime.

Speaking after the meeting, he said legacy was a major barrier to building trust and recruitment, especially among the Catholic community.

"We have to be realistic," he said. "This isn't going to happen overnight so we have to manage current investigations as well as the transition to a new body and answer questions about who is going to lead it, how it will work, where it will be based and what's the breadth of the terms of reference and what sort of enquiries it will undertake."

A UK Government spokesman said earlier this week: "The Government is focused on delivering its commitments as agreed as part of the New Decade, New Approach deal, including introducing legislation on legacy."

The Chief Constable also told the board he wasn't hopeful he would see the cash promised in the New Decade, New Approach deal to bring his officer numbers up to 7,500.

"I have no confidence that we are going to see the money this side of the settlement," he said.

"Even if we were given the money in April, we would struggle to recruit at pace between the 6,900 we are at now to 7,500," he added.

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