26 January 2006

Call to set up special police team in Republic to probe terrorist killings

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
26 January 2006

A special police team to investigate Troubles murders involving the Republic of Ireland should be established, a Dail committee has heard.

The recommendation was made to the joint justice committee in Leinster House in Dublin yesterday and could boost efforts to solve murders on both sides of the border.

The PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) was set up earlier this month with a £30m budget to investigate an estimated 3,268 unsolved murders.

The Justice Committee is looking at the police investigation into the 1976 murder of Dundalk labourer Seamus Ludlow, for which nobody was ever charged.

A witness to the inquiry, Jane Winter from the British/Irish Rights Watch lobby group, said a HET in the Republic would be welcomed by the Northern Irish authorities.

I think that (a southern counterpart) would be extremely helpful. The HET has met with the Garda Commissioner and are in the process of drawing up a protocol (of information sharing).

"If there was such a unit I think it would benefit them and could help to lay a lot of ghosts on both sides of the border.

"There is a real desire now to find out or indeed share information with the families as far as it's possible and close the door on the past."

The first step in the process would be for the Justice committee to recommend the measure when it reports its findings in March.

A spokesman for the Garda said: "I certainly have not heard of anything like that but if it is going to happen it will be announced in due course."

Other cases which could benefit from a formal review team include the Dublin/ Monaghan bombings in 1974, which Mid-Ulster loyalists have been implicated in.

Many IRA bombings also originated in the Republic, including the Omagh bombing in 1998.

"It would be very useful for the HET to have a dedicated body in the Republic which it could work with," said Ms Winter.

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