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Historic Inquiries

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

10. How much has been allocated to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2007-08 for historical inquiries. (137965)

The historic inquiries team project has been allocated £34 million to re-examine all the unresolved deaths in Northern Ireland that were related to the security situation during the period from 1968 until the signing of the Belfast agreement.

Is the Minister aware that up to 40 per cent. of police resources available for investigating serious crime can be diverted into historic inquiries, many of which originate from the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, which many believe is engaged in a witch hunt against former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary? Does the Minister agree with the Superintendents Association of Northern Ireland, which says that perhaps now is the time to draw a line under the past and concentrate police resources on current policing needs, rather than on those politically motivated inquiries?

It is very important that the historic inquiries team should be able to fulfil the purpose for which it was first established: to look back at records and see whether explanations for unresolved deaths can be offered to families. However, I strongly agree with the hon. Gentleman that we need to find other ways of drawing a line under the past—not to pretend that the past did not happen or that the hurt is not still there, but to focus our resources on the present and the future so that, going forward, Northern Ireland can enjoy peace and prosperity.