Belfast Telegraph

Troubles probes costing £12m a year

Investigating past atrocities is costing police in Northern Ireland £12 million a year.

That includes supplying 31 inquests with redacted documents and supporting a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigating more than 3,000 unresolved killings.

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie told the Policing Board in Belfast: "Twelve million pounds spent on policing the past is not £12 million spent on policing the here and now. It is for others to sort out longer term how this issue is dealt with. If we had that £12 million we could spend it on policing the here and now and preventing serious crime happening."

She continued: "We would much rather spend our policing budget on policing the here and now but we understand there are emotive issues."

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "deeply sorry" in June after British paratroopers had shot dead 13 civil rights marchers in Londonderry without justification on 30 January 1972. But he sounded equally unequivocal in his pledge there would never again be such an open-ended and costly inquiry again as Lord Saville's Bloody Sunday tribunal, which cost £195 million and took 12 years to complete.

With many unsolved murders and a lack of closure for other families who feel their cases are being overlooked the justice issue is difficult to resolve.

South Africa dealt with crimes committed during the apartheid era by establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined events between 1960 and 1994.

A similar commission was recommended last year by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley, who looked at how Northern Ireland should deal with the legacy of the Troubles. If implemented the commission would take the place of the HET and any ongoing investigations by Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson.

A group of MPs who examined the proposals found Northern Ireland still has not reached any consensus on how to move on from the Troubles and concluded it was not clear whether such a Legacy Commission was needed.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee found that neither victims, nor members of paramilitary organisations were willing to sign up to the idea of a truth and reconciliation process and warned Northern Ireland could become overburdened with organisations addressing the Troubles.


From Belfast Telegraph