PFC/JFF respond to Chief Constable
| 15 December 2017
Following publication of an Open Letter from the Glenanne families the Chief Constable has written to all elected representatives rejecting the families' call for him to abide by the terms of the Order of Mandamus issued on November 7 by Mr. Justice Seamus Treacy and not pursue another appeal process through the courts. See here for the response from the PFC and JFF.
PRESS STATEMENT - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (DECEMBER 15 2017) FAMILIES' ANGER AT CHIEF CONSTABLE'S DECISION TO APPEAL The families of the 120+ people bereaved on both sides of the border by collusion between state forces and the "Glenanne Gang" woke up this morning to hear the very unwelcome news that the Chief Constable, George Hamilton, is to appeal the recent High Court judgements in our favour. The Chief Constable says budgetary restraints preclude him from complying with court rulings made by Mr. Justice Seamus Treacy in July and November this year - that an unfinished thematic report on collusion in the Glenanne series of murders (including the 34 victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings) must be concluded. Let us be clear. On July 28, the court ordered that the report on collusion be concluded (a) independently (ie not by the PSNI) (b) in a timely way and (c) with ring-fenced funding. The court ordered that the Chief Constable meet with the families' lawyers to discuss how to proceed towards this remedy of his force's continuing breach of their human rights.
The PFC's Alan Brecknell, whose father, Trevor, was murdered on 19 December 1975, said today: "The Chief Constable has done nothing. There have been no meetings, no discussions, no consultations." "That is why the court reconvened in November and, once again, ordered him to comply with its July ruling. In a highly unusual move, the court even issued an 'Order of Mandamus' informing the Chief Constable he should take action immediately." "He has yet, however, to even request a meeting. All the Chief Constable has done is to announce, today, that he is appealing the court's rulings." "Lawyers for the families say this appeal will focus on technical legal issues (not the substantive High Court judgement). They also say, however, that it may take a year for the appeal to be heard. Eight close bereaved family members have already died since the case first came to court in November 2014. The Chief Constable predicts it will cost £60million to fund the report which the court has ordered. This is the first time we have seen any such sum mentioned and we wonder how he comes up with this figure?" "He says the Historical Inquiries Unit (HIU), proposed in the Stormont House Agreement, is the institution which should conclude the Glenanne report. The High Court, however, ruled the Glenanne murders must be dealt with by a timely stand-alone inquiry - not left to be dealt with when, if ever, the HIU is ever established."
The PFC agrees with the Chief Constable on one point: that this is damaging confidence in the PSNI. We agree with him that the families have also been failed by politicians, particularly in London, who have yet to deal with the legacy of conflict. The Glenanne families are one group of many in the same traumatic position of having to wait decades for truth and justice. They are witnessing their elderly relatives, who have already suffered so much, dying without any acknowledgement or apology. The inordinate delay in launching the necessary consultation process into the implementation of the proposals in the Stormont House Agreement (itself now three years old) is totally unacceptable. We cannot understand or accept this intolerable delay in launching the required consultation. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire could - and should - do so immediately. But this does not absolve the Chief Constable of his legal duty to abide by the High Court's ruling. He cannot do so indefinitely by pleading inability to pay. Has he applied for additional funding from London? We do not know as he is in breach of the judgement and has made no attempt to speak to us.
Finally, the Chief Constable says in his letter to politicians that he has written "privately" and "out of respect" to all the families. This is not the case. He sent a letter to their lawyers yesterday afternoon at the same time as he wrote openly to the politicians. This gave us no time to inform the families of his decision privately. Another 48 hours would have allowed us to do so at what is always a very difficult and painful time of year for them.