DOJ slashes OPONI Budget
Press Statement from PFC | 30 September 2014
The Pat Finucane Centre and the families with whom we work are dismayed and disappointed at today’s news that the budget of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is to be seriously reduced.
Fifteen staff have been made redundant, of whom 10 were working in the "Historical Directorate" - that is dealing with cases arising out of the conflict.
The guarantee of an independent, robust and effective mechanism to investigate complaints against the PSNI, and the RUC before them, was a central plank of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Agreement itself was an international treaty meaning the British and Irish governments have legal obligations to ensure it is implemented, in addition to their commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights.
These budget cuts mean that upwards of 50 families with whom the PFC works, who have already waited far too long for their complaints to be investigated, will now have to wait even longer. This is deplorable and unacceptable.
The Ombudsman’s office informed those families, in good faith, that their cases would be dealt with over a six-year period. That is now being increased to twelve years.
If, as we believe, confidence in the Ombudsman’s office is severely dented by the result of these budget cuts, confidence in present-day policing will inevitably also be affected. This is not the "new beginning" that people expected and supported at the time of the GFA.
The PFC believes that the British government has a special obligation to fund investigations into "legacy cases" rather than expecting the Stormont executive to find the necessary funding from the block grant.
We appeal to all political parties concerned about the deep anxiety this will cause for the families of victims and survivors to ensure these budget cuts are reversed and the office of the Ombudsman is adequately funded.