02 April 2005

Daily Ireland

Murphy: army did ‘murder

Secretary of State Paul Murphy yesterday admitted that the British army had “murdered” people in as yet unsolved cases during the conflict in the North.
Mr Murphy was speaking at a Stormont press conference alongside Chief Constable Hugh Orde to announce the establishment of a new branch within the PSNI Crime Operations Department, costing in excess of £30 million (€42 million).
After being questioned about his distinction in using the word “murders” when talking about deaths caused by paramilitaries and the word “killings” when referring to deaths caused by state forces, Mr Murphy said, “There is no distinction in terms of a person being murdered, in terms of someone being murdered by loyalist activity, by republican activity, by the army, or whatever it might be.”
Mr Murphy then claimed that the British government had dealt with the issue of collusion through the establishment of recent inquiries.
Responding to the creation of the new PSNI unit, a spokesperson for the anticollusion campaign An Fhírinne said, “It is a political decision”.
Mr Murphy’s admission of state murder might be viewed by some people as “a first step, but the prospect of the British state once again reviewing its own actions will not build confidence,” said the spokesperson.
“These proposals raise very serious questions around issues of disclosure, transparency, accountability, Crown immunity and so on, particularly when people directly involved in collusion are still employed by the PSNI and British security agencies.
“Paul Murphy’s contention that a storytelling exercise or a handful of inquiries established under the umbrella of deeply flawed legislation will somehow deal with the travesty of state collusion is both unrealistic and insulting to scores of families who have been treated with disdain by his government over the past 35 years.”
An Fhírinne will be convening families of victims of state collusion later this week to respond directly to Mr Murphy and Mr Orde.
It emerged yesterday that the new PSNI branch, known as C8, will have at least 100 personnel attached to it, including support from a dedicated Special Branch unit.
Focusing on the review of “unresolved deaths due to the security situation between 1969 and 1998”, C8 will also rely on a newly established and dedicated team within the Forensic Science Laboratary.
Mr Orde confirmed yesterday that no protocol had yet been completed in relation to how cases for review were prioritised or resourced.
It is envisaged that C8 wil comprise current and former members of the PSNI, as well as British detectives.
C8 will be commanded by Dave Cox, a retired commander of the Metropolitan Police. Its head of investigation will be Detective Superintendent Phil James.
Last May, based on his service with the Stevens inquiry, Detective Superintendent James acted in support of Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kincaid and Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Wright during a detailed presentation to the Policing Board about the formation of the Crime Operations Department.

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