Avoid HET ‘vacuum for victims’ call

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A highly critical report of the Historical Enquiries Team cannot be “veneered with a few new pledges of better performance”, Foyle MP Mark Durkan has said.

Mr Durkan made the comments ahead of Chief Constable Matt Baggott’s meeting with the head of the HET yesterday to discuss a report by HMIC - the leading oversight body for UK police - which stated that the investigation team treated killings carried out by the army differently to other cases.

However, Mr Durkan has also said that totally removing the HET’s role might satisfy a well-founded anger but also create a ‘vacuum for victims’ and may remove any prospect of accounting to families who need the truth recovered to the fullest extent possible.

Mr Durkan said: “The HMIC report is particularly dispiriting for the families affected and disturbing for the wider public. The systematic and cultural shortcomings underlined by this report cannot be veneered with a few new pledges of better performance. There has been value for families in some of the HET’s work and many other families are still awaiting the HET’s evidence on their long-standing cases. We therefore need to make sure that the value of the work that the HET has done and the work that still needs to be done is not lost in the radical adjustments that are needed. The fundamental issues underlying this officially confirmed crisis of confidence need to be remedied.

“A reaction that would totally remove the HET’s role might satisfy well-founded anger but it might also remove any prospect of accounting to families who need the truth recovered to the fullest extent possible. In particular, we need to avoid another vacuum for victims being created.”