24 January 2006

'Dirty Tricks' Sabotage Death Probes

Derry Journal

Tuesday 24th January 2006

Murders alleged to have been committed by the RUC during the Troubles, including that of Derry man Sammy Devenny, will NOT be reinvestigated by the newly formed Historical Enquiries Team (HET), it was revealed yesterday. All such deaths, which also include that of Dungiven man Francis McCloskey, will, in turn, be probed by the Police Ombudsman once funding is secured by the Northern Ireland Office.

Speaking to the 'Journal' yesterday, Paul O'Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre, described the situation as ridiculous, suggesting that "dirty tricks" could be scuppering the reinvestigation of these controversial deaths. "What we are left with now is a totally ridiculous situation whereby someone who was killed by the UVF in July 1969 will have their death investigated, but someone who was killed by the RUC in July 1969 must continue to wait for the funding to be made available to get their answers."

Mr. O'Connor said it was the opinion of the Pat Finucane Centre that, by not releasing the necessary funds to allow the Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, to investigate such cases, the British government is "guilty of non cooperation" with ongoing investigations."As far as we are concerned, everything that can be done to block such investigations is being done."

Sinn Fein spokesperson Raymond McCartney has also voiced his concerns over the investigations process, saying it is "hamstrung before it even started". "The problem with the British state investigating itself is that it puts too many obstacles in the way of too many families," he said. "The cases of Mr. Devenny and Mr. McCloskey are just one example of how selective this system is and how it has ultimately failed before it has even started.

"In line with many victims families, particularly those killed by the British State, we are doubtful that the approach outlined by the Historical Enquires Team can achieve the truth. However much this scheme is dressed up, it is still an internal unit of the PSNI, and is very much a case of the state investigating the state." The Historical Investigations Team (HET) is charged with investigating in excess of 3,000 unsolved murder cases attributed to the Troubles, and it is expected it will take more than five years to complete the task. On Friday last, a spokesperson for the PSNI revealed the first 100 cases will have their investigations relaunched and that the Enquiry Team will deal with cases in a chronological order. The first deaths in the North West attributed to the Troubles were those of Mr. Devenny and Mr. McCloskey, neither of which come under the remit of the HET.

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