Completed legacy reports currently with the Police Ombudsman “must be published” without delay, the son of a man murdered by loyalists has said.
Tommy Duffin was reacting to Government proposals which would see all Troubles investigations removed from the watchdog’s office.
His father Jack (66) was shot dead in the loyalist massacre at Sean Graham’s bookmakers on the Ormeau Road in 1992.
A challenge by the Retired Police Officers’ Association delayed the publication of the report. However, with that legal process now exhausted, victims say there is no longer any reason for the findings not to be released.
“Our report has been completed for three years and we’ve now been told it’ll be the autumn before it is released, at the same time the British are saying this legislation is going to be passed in the autumn,” he said.
“We’ve never, ever called for anyone to be charged. We’re not stupid people, we never believed anyone would be prosecuted, all we’ve asked for is the truth about the collusion in our case”.
Andree Murphy from Relatives for Justice said: “The Ombudsman has no excuse. She must publish these reports in the coming weeks before the pernicious legacy legislation ends all hope of truth and information for these families”.
Meanwhile, former Labour Secretary of State Shaun Woodward offered to assist the Government in a consultation about the past.
“What they have failed to do is really widely consult with people and get something — it will never appeal to everybody — but that people would feel was possible to find a way to come behind,” he said.
Mr Woodward said the South African truth and reconciliation commission could be used as a template for any future information recovery body here.
“It had accountability, and what is missing from the Government’s proposals for a statute of limitation and all the things they are proposing to do is accountability, and what unites people is they want accountability.
“If the Prime Minister tomorrow morning asked would I spend a year, doing what we asked Chris Patten to do on policing, on the legacy issue, of course I’d give up absolutely everything for the sake of Northern Ireland”, he told Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show.
Legal expert Joshua Rozenberg said that the Government’s plans appear to have no cut-off date on when the statute on prosecutions for Troubles offences should end.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that loyalists wanted to see the cut-off point for prosecutions extended beyond April 1998.
Mr Rozenberg said it appeared the Government intended to put a ban not on prosecutions, but on police investigations.
“This gets round the problem of defining ‘Troubles-related offences’ in the statute,” he said.
“It also avoids the need for a strict cut-off date. No doubt some Troubles-related offences were committed after April 10, 1998, the date of the Good Friday Agreement.”