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August 27, 2007

Govt Accused Over Murder Probe Funding

News about Ireland and the Irish

UT 08/27/07 Government Accused Over Murder Probe Funding
IT 08/27/07 SF Calls For Crackdown On Drug Crime


Government Accused Over Murder Probe Funding

The British government was accused today of failing to
deliver on a pledge to fund an investigative unit re-
examining murders from Northern Ireland's Troubles.

Dave Cox, head of the Historical Enquiries Team, revealed
that last year`s funding, worth £4 million, had to come out
of Sir Hugh Orde`s policing budget for Northern Ireland,
even though the government promised two years ago that it
would provide £32 million for the work over six years.

But as Northern Ireland Office officials prepared a stock-
take of the HET, Mr Cox vowed the review of 3,268 murders
between 1969 and 1998 would go on even if it had to be
funded from the existing Police Service of Northern Ireland

"There`s been a lot of publicity about a stock-taking of
the HET process and that`s fine," Mr Cox said.

"We`re up for being audited and we`re up for justifying
what we do because we believe it is a very valuable

"But the message this sends out to families is: `Are you
going to pull the process then? Is it going to stop? I am
on the chronological list and they are not going to get to
me for another couple of years. Does that mean they are
going to change their mind and after all these promises
they won`t come?`

"The chief (Sir Hugh) has been very upfront about all this
and I will as well. We will get around to all the families
because the chief has told me if the NIO do not fund us, he

"The point is we are almost back to square one as far as
the PSNI budget is concerned. You have the demands of
current policing on the chief`s day-to-day budget, which is
why the (NIO-backed) project fund was set up for HET.

"If the money the chief has for current policing is
diverted to policing the past, then that has a big impact
on his planning."

In March 2005, then Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy
earmarked more than £24 million for the unit, which was the
brainchild of Sir Hugh, and almost #8 million for forensic
scientists assisting its work.

A team of 100 investigators have so far worked on 700 cases
and completed 262, working closely with the families of
those killed.

However, with former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Eames
and ex-Northern Ireland Policing Board vice chairman Denis
Bradley heading up a review into how the province can best
address the past, concerns are mounting among some families
that the Government may be preparing to wind down the HET.

Bernard Moane, whose father, Benny, was abducted in Belfast
and murdered by loyalists at a war monument outside
Carrickfergus in May 1972, today backed calls for the
Government to honour its original funding pledge.

Mr Moane, whose father`s murder was reviewed by the team
between last October and June, told PA: "There have been
certain rumours going around about whether the HET should
continue or not or whether there is enough money to enable
it to continue or not.

"In my view if the Government can afford to spend well over
#100 million on the Bloody Sunday inquiry, then I do not
see why they cannot find additional money or enough money,
sufficient resources for the HET to deliver on what they
were asked to do in their initial brief."

As he prepared to meet NIO officials, Mr Cox said a lot
could be learned by the Eames and Bradley review from the

"Our experience to date has been that it`s the people who
suffered and lost in the Troubles are the people who should
first be consulted," he said.

"We devised our process tailored around our interaction
with the families, asking them `What is it you want to

"Any process devised by Bradley and Eames or whoever, if it
doesn`t start by asking the families what they want out of
this and end up by delivering what they need, then in my
view that will be a waste of money because you have got to
go to the people who are suffering.

"We have started work in 700 cases and that means we have
got at least a prospect that within a relatively defined
period of time they will have some answers about what
happened to their loved ones.

"It is not like these massive public inquiries which sit
months and months taking evidence and then their
considerations take years after that. We are a much more
refined process than that.

"We looked at our set disciplines and try and answer the
families` questions. In many cases they are not actually
about who pulled the trigger but are much more personal

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman insisted the PSNI had
not lost out on any funding, even though the HET money had
come out of its budget.

"The total budget for the entire HET project is £34
million," he revealed.

"At the end of the financial year 06/07 the total spend for
the project was £9.5 million, of which the PSNI spend was
£8.13 million.

"During the 06/07 financial year the PSNI spend was £4.18
million, which was met from the overall PSNI budget and has
been deducted from the £34 million allocated to the HET


SF Calls For Crackdown On Drug Crime

Last Updated: 27/08/2007 16:58

Sinn Féin has called for serious drug and gun crime to be
made a priority in the Garda Policing Plan 2008.

Speaking at the launch of the party's submission to the
policing plan, the party's justice spokesman Aengus Ó
Snodaigh said gardaí must crackdown on serious drug and gun

He said the Special Branch should be disbanded, re-trained
and re-deployed to focus on organised crime.

Mr Ó'Snodaigh also called for a higher garda profile in
areas suffering public drug dealing problems.

"One of our key demands for 2008 is to see more gardaí on
foot and on bicycles patrolling anti-social behaviour
hotspots and residential areas with greater frequency and
particularly during the hours when problematic and criminal
behaviour occurs", he said.

The party said it also wanted to see all future policing
plans work towards the establishment of an all-Ireland
policing service.

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