Chief constable makes probes pledge

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has pledged action in wake of Feile debate
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has pledged action in wake of Feile debate

CHIEF Constable George Hamilton has pledged to look at publishing the British government inquiries into its 'shoot-to-kill' policy and security force collusion with loyalists.

The PSNI head said he would "progress... and respond" to recent calls for the Stevens and Stalker/Sampson inquiry reports to be made public.

Despite long-running inquiries dating back as far as the 1980s, the findings of neither probe have seen the light of day.

At a Féile an Phobail event earlier this month, Mr Hamilton was challenged over the reports into shoot-to-kill and collusion, as well as by the relatives of those killed in the the McGurk's Bar bombing and the Ballymurphy massacre families.

In the Irish News last week, columnist and former Sinn Féin special adviser Jarlath Kearney underlined the relatives' calls.

The chief constable has responded to Mr Kearney's opinion piece, saying he intends to address the "challenging questions" raised during the event, which also heard contributions from Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

In relation to McGurk's Bar, the PSNI head said he had agreed to respond to the families of the UVF massacre victims before September 25, the next scheduled court date to have a report into the bombing quashed.

He said it may not be appropriate to meet the families due to the legal proceedings, but he would look at the legal position.

"I was also asked to look at the Stevens and Stalker/Sampson inquiry reports with a view to assessing whether or not the reports could be published, even in a redacted form," Mr Hamilton said.

"I will progress this and respond in due course as to whether or not it is appropriate to do so. If it is not possible to publish the reports, I will explain the reasons for this decision."

The chief constable also pledged to look at the issue of disclosure in relation to the Ballymurphy inquest and would respond to questions about staffing levels in due course.

"I believe the Stormont House Agreement, in particular the establishment of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), is a genuine opportunity for all of us to make a real difference for those who are suffering as a result of the past," he said.

Responding to the letter, which is published in today's Irish News, Paul O’Connor of Pat Finucane Centre said he agreed that the HIU provided an opportunity to move forward.

"A truly independent investigative mechanism is vital," he said.

"As regards the chief constable’s response on specific cases such as McGurks, Ballymurphy and Stalker/Stevens, there must be a suspicion that the PSNI is still using the law to cover a process of on-going delays."