Belfast Telegraph

SDLP calls for independent team to probe murders

27 September 2004

SDLP leader Mark Durkan last night called for an independent team of investigators to probe murder cases in Northern Ireland that were mishandled by the police during the Troubles.

He told the Agreed Ireland Forum's fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Brighton that the Police Service of Northern Ireland should not be tied up investigating controversial past killings.

During a debate which also involved Northern Ireland Office minister Angela Smith and Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane, Mr Durkan said: "There are countless murders which have never been properly investigated.

"Their families know and feel this.

"Already we have seen the revelations from the Police Ombudsman into the murder of (GAA official) Sean Brown.

"We know that there will be many more.

"From one perspective, the PSNI should not be burdened with investigating all these past cases.

"From another perspective, they would not be trusted with them.

"That's why the SDLP wants to create a dedicated arrangement to independently investigate these past cases using people from outside with the appropriate expertise, competence and credibility."

Mr Durkan said for far too long survivors of the Troubles and victims' families felt the political process had paid lip service to their needs rather than dealing with their needs.

He called for the convening of the Victims and Survivors Forum proposed in the British and Irish Governments' joint declaration last year.

The forum, he said, should design a truth and remembrance process that put the rights of victims and survivors at its heart.

Mr Durkan also urged all politicians to move beyond just representing their own communities' victims.

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