Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Policing and collusion

Daily Ireland on police collusion with loyalists:

Relatives of people murdered as a result of police collusion with loyalist paramilitaries have slammed the PSNI after the publication of a report highlighting the service’s recent human rights record.

The report was commissioned by the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
It claimed that the PSNI had outperformed all British police forces as it struggled to comply with basic human-rights demands.

Last night, the families of people murdered as a result of RUC and British military collusion with loyalists branded the report “hypocritical”.

Despite praise for the PSNI from the report’s authors, Keir Starmer QC and Jane Gordon, the families of those murdered as a result of collusion are angry that the vexed issue was not raised once.

During a press conference to launch the report, a member of the relatives group An Fhírinne took to the podium to highlight their grievances.

Group spokesman Robert McClenaghan said the PSNI had failed to uphold the rights of victims’ families desperate to uncover the truth about the murder of their loved ones.

“Under the third Stevens report published in 2003, a recommendation was made to prepare files on 20 RUC Special Branch and military intelligence officers and forward it to the Department [Director] of Public Prosecutions,” he said.

“Many of those RUC Special Branch officers are now in the PSNI. A range of crimes were raised, right up to murder. To date, no proceedings have been brought against any of these people.

“We have had collusion down the decades and yet no suspensions or expulsions from the PSNI. The high-profile cases are well known but there are hundreds of other people affected.

“It is hypocritical of them to talk about human rights when they have promoted these Special Branch men within the ranks of the PSNI.

“Do our human rights not matter? Is there a hierarchy of victims? We represent over 250 families and each one of them matters.”

Policing Board chairman Sir Desmond Rea said the report was important in terms of identifying human-rights issues raised by the PSNI.

“Human rights is a fundamental element in policing, and achieving and maintaining these standards is a critical factor for community confidence in the delivery of the policing service,” he said. “The report published today will be used by the board as a benchmark for moving forward on the human-rights agenda, and we will be discussing with the chief constable how the recommendations made in the report will be progressed.”

North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin’s policing spokesman, said the report lacked credibility.

He said, “The so-called Policing Board ‘advisers’ who produced this report are the same people who vindicated the PSNI actions last July when the PSNI overturned a Parades Commission determination and forced a loyalist mob through nationalist Ardoyne.

“This is nothing less than self-congratulatory nonsense that will do nothing to generate confidence in the PSNI.”

No one from the PSNI was available for comment.

I wonder if the media will give these families the same attention that they have given to the family of Robert McCartney? I very much doubt it.


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