Speaking today in response to media questions about the appointment of Drew Harris as the new Garda Commissioner Relatives for Justice CEO Mark Thompson said:
“In terms of our experience Drew Harris has at every opportunity sought to thwart families search for truth and accountability when the state has killed people; whether at legacy inquests, civil proceedings and most publicly with the ombudsman who had to take the PSNI to court in order to obtain intelligence necessary for that office to conduct legacy investigations.
“He was publicly criticised by the former Garda Commissioner for his evidence at the Smithwicks tribunal who famously cited his evidence as being nonsense on stilts.
“Overall Drew Harris has had a stranglehold on legacy and has acted partially and with vested interest at all times not least concerning incidents of shoot to kill and collusion carried out by the state during the conflict and in particular the role of RUC special branch.
“I personally think it’s a bad day for the Garda and the people in the 26 counties – I personally don’t believe he has anything positive to contribute to normal policing in a normal society.
“He is largely viewed as a policing dinosaur and often referred to as the leader of a cabal of former RUC officers within the PSNI who are the political policemen and who wield huge power and influence with MI5 also based here.
“There can be no doubt that this is a strategic move on his part as the criteria for being appointed as chief constable of the PSNI requires experience at a senior level with an external policing and criminal justice agency. No doubt he’ll return.
“There are other obvious concerns too in that the establishment of legacy institutions also require cooperation between both jurisdictions on the island in terms of investigations and not least intelligence sharing and he’ll no doubt exploit that opportunity in the overall interests of the British intelligence agencies and their role south of the border during the conflict. Mirroring what he did north of the border.
“Robust mechanisms of accountability will most certainly be required by the Oireachtas and the Garda Ombudsman.” ENDS