Set Hugh Orde Free

Responding to Hugh Orde’s interview with Liam Clarke in this week’s Sunday Times (06/04/08) Deputy Director of Relatives for Justice Andrée Murphy released the following statement

“The article makes very interesting reading for many reasons. In particular the large part of the article pertaining to his force’s responsibility for dealing with the past.

“There were many things he said which are patently true and are worth supporting.

“When Mr Orde says “unless the past is resolved it will always be there and will damage what we do” he is right. He was of course only referring to the internal day-to-day policing work which he is charged with, but it is true for the PSNI and also for wider society.

“He states that there is not enough money for a public inquiry into every killing and that “cherry picking an inquiry here and there will not bring closure”.

He is right on this also.

“However he expresses this view to undermine the current inquiries which he is frustrated with dealing with. And it is worth putting some matters on record.

“Firstly these inquiries were not cherry picked to bring a form of “closure” to some families. These inquiries were determined by two governments and the political parties as the best way forward to deal with some cases of deep public concern where state involvement in murder was alleged and evidenced.

The truth is that the families had no control on how these cases were to be dealt with and certainly have no control at the moment as every twist and turn sees another prevarication and statute by the state to hide the identities of those responsible, to destroy pertinent and relevant evidence and to frustrate the public interest being heard.

“Mr Orde is right to point to the legal costs he is incurring. However stating that there is a “zero sum return” must be seen in the context of the state wanting the inquiries to fail. The state’s costs in public inquiries are considerable and are incurred when they choose not to make public their involvement in murder and turn their face against the public interest and the interests of families in favour of the “national interest” and Mr Orde holds that line consistently and tenaciously.

“It is not only in public inquiries he chooses to reel out his lawyers but also in inquests threatening Public Interest Immunity Certificates and refusing to hand over pertinent materials. He colludes with the Public Prosecution Service to ensure that no public disclosure of collusion is made possible, through the routine dropping of charges in criminal trials when state agents are implicated, through inquests into state killings and those where collusion is evidenced, through public inquiries or through the criminal investigations of the Historical Enquiries Team. It is sophisticated and expensive over-up with a fine gloss and plenty of spin.

“And this too is itself a legacy of the conflict and in the context of the British Government trying to keep a lid on its activities and refusing to accept culpability.

“So what is the solution? Investment in an international independent truth commission which can deliver the facts and acknowledgement to families. Let’s learn the lessons of the past – some of it all too recent – and that way ensure that policing and the Chief Constable are freed up to be trusted, accountable and rigorous for the current challenges they face.” ENDS