Belfast Telegraph

Willie Frazer threatens to sue Government as police budget cuts delay RUC misconduct cases

Application: Willie Frazer
Application: Willie Frazer

Budget cuts are set to delay the completion of investigations into alleged police misconduct in nearly 300 murders in Northern Ireland until 2025.

Victims' relatives are now threatening to sue the Government after the Police Ombudsman's office informed them of the six-year hold-up in getting through its historic caseload.

One campaigner predicted some of the bereaved may not be alive when inquiries into their complaints are completed.

Willie Frazer said: "People haven't got until 2025 to wait for this."

Police Ombudsman resources and staff deployed on historic cases is being cut by 25% due to a £750,000 funding reduction.

Investigations into claims of criminal misconduct by RUC officers, including collusion, conspiracy to murder and perverting the course of justice, are to be carried out.

They include probes into the IRA massacre of 10 Protestant workers near Kingsmills, Co Armagh in 1976, the murders of 12 people at La Mon Hotel, outside Belfast, and the activities of the loyalist Glenanne gang - a sectarian murder squad that allegedly included rogue members of the police and Army.

It has now been confirmed to victims' relatives how long they could have to wait for answers.

In letters written on behalf of Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire, the watchdog's Director of Historic Investigations set out the adverse impact of the budget cuts.

Paul Holmes said: "Together with the unavailability of additional funding previously requested from the Department of Justice to enable completion of these inquires by March 31, 2019, it is now clear that our historic investigations cannot be completed before 2025."

Investigations into complaints will almost certainly be delayed due to the reduction in funding, he added.

Mr Holmes acknowledged in the letters how the news will be distressing and offered his "heartfelt apologies for the situation".

He continued: "You should not have to endure such a delay. Unfortunately, however, I need to ask for your patience as we seek to clarify the position with respect to a new timetable for our historic investigations."

One of the probes set to be put back is that into the IRA killings of part-time UDR solider Bertie Frazer, near Whitecross, Co Armagh in 1975.

The victim's son, prominent campaigner Willie Frazer, warned that he and the relatives of other murder victims will take legal action against the Government over the cuts.

He insisted: "We are entitled to justice and we are entitled to closure.

"Everybody else seems to be looked after and dealt with except the innocent victims.

"There are other places they could make these cuts, there's funding going into projects in Northern Ireland which is nothing but a waste of taxpayers' money."

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