Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Britain accused of failing to fund mammoth probe into Northern Ireland's `cold case' killings

Britain accused of failing to fund mammoth probe into Northern Ireland's `cold case' killings

A mammoth probe into more than 3,200 "cold case" killings in Northern Ireland is not being funded as Britain promised, politicians and detectives said Tuesday.
The Historical Enquiries Team, a 100-strong detective unit established near Belfast in 2005. The British government announced at the time that it would receive 32 million pounds (US$64 million; euro49 million) in dedicated funding. But most of its expense is being borne by the Police Service of Northern Ireland instead _ raising questions about whether the project will be abandoned midway.
"With over 3,000 unsolved murders, it is totally unacceptable that the funding of these inquiries should have to come from the policing budget," said Jeffrey Donaldson, a lawmaker from the Democratic Unionist Party, which represents most of the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland.
Last month, Chief Constable Hugh Orde complained that his force's budget was being sapped by government-ordered probes into past killings. He said it was handicapping his officers' ability to handle current crime threats.
The Northern Ireland Office, the British government department in the province, insisted its funding of the Historical Enquiries Team was as promised.
It said that, of the 9.5 million pounds (US$19 million; euro14 million) spent so far, more than 8.1 million pounds (US$16.3 million; euro11.9 million) had come from the Northern Ireland police. It did not explain the discrepancy.
A moderate Catholic politician, Dolores Kelly, accused Britain of promising money it never intended to deliver. She said the police "should not have to choose between combating crime and investigating the past."
The project was conceived as a way to bring closure to the families of people slain during the conflict over Northern Ireland, during which most killings went unsolved.
The Historical Enquiries Team, staffed largely by veteran detectives from England and Northern Ireland, was supposed to reopen the files on each case dating back to 1968 and identify whether any evidence was overlooked.
So far, the first 693 cases have been opened in chronological order, of which 262 have been completed. The project's director, Dave Cox, says it will be impossible to meet the government's deadline of 2011 for the work to be finished.
But he said his reliance on funding from the Northern Ireland police was never part of the original plan, and it raised doubts in the minds of victims' families _ particularly those who lost loved ones in the 1980s and 1990s and whose cases have not yet been studied.
The British government this year formed a fact-finding panel to recommend the best way to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland's death and destruction. The panel, led by a retired Anglican archbishop and a former Catholic priest, is considering the possibility of a South African-style "truth and reconciliation" forum where perpetrators of crimes could confess what they did without fear of prosecution.
___
On the Net:
Historical Enquiries Team,
http://www.psni.police.uk/index/departments/historical_enquiries


Updated : 2021-07-25 11:46 GMT+08:00