Belfast Telegraph


Chris Thornton
Political Correspondent
27 May 2004

SECRETARY of State Paul Murphy's quest to establish a truth and reconciliation process is running up against police demands to preserve secrecy around contentious killings.

The PSNI has indicated twice in the past eight days that it may ask Mr Murphy to sign powerful gagging orders to suppress information. Those indications claim - as he prepared to fly out to South Africa next week - to look at ways of adapting that country's truth commission for use in Northern Ireland.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has also advocated a truth process, but his force was accused of trying to keep "a stranglehold" on information relating to a dozen deaths spanning more than a decade.

PUP leader David Ervine today called for an inquiry into one of the cases, indicating that the UVF wants to "get to the truth" about allegations that an informer in their ranks murdered teenagers David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb.

Last week police told the High Court in Belfast they may seek a Public Interest Immunity Certificate - which would have to be signed by Mr Murphy - to stop David McIlwaine's family receiving intelligence reports about the killing.

And yesterday a Coroner in Tyrone said that there would be a further delay in a two-year legal battle over evidence while police consider blocking a ruling that they should disclose a dozen unedited documents to four inquests.

East Tyrone Coroner Roger McClernon said police had asked for the time to consider "public interest immunity issues" in the cases of pensioner Roseanne Mallon, Moy butchers Kevin and John McKearney - all murdered by the UVF - and seven IRA gunmen ambushed by security forces.

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