NORTH Antrim DUP MLA and Policing Board Member Mervyn Storey has called on the Chief Constable George Hamilton to provide assurances that the skills and expertise of former RUC officers serving in the PSNI today will continue to be harnessed in historical investigations.
His comments were made after Thursday’s public meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
Mr Storey said: “The officers and staff of the RUC displayed courage, dedication and high levels of professionalism during a brutal terrorist campaign.
“Many continue to work today within the ranks of the PSNI today. It is vital that they are not prevented from applying their skills and expertise in investigating legacy cases.
“The recent McQuillan judgement by the Court of Appeal raised concerns around the practical independence of Legacy Branch investigators.
“It did not find that the PSNI was institutionally or hierarchically connected to the RUC or military.
“We accept that it is entirely appropriate to avoid conflicts of interests between individual officers and historical cases.
“However this ruling should not be a gateway to airbrushing the invaluable contribution that former RUC officers can make to investigations today.
“Families of innocent victims and the wider community deserve to have confidence that those best equipped to do the job are able to progress the investigations into the murder of their loved ones.
“Therefore I have urged the Chief Constable to provide assurances that there will be no blanket ban on officers from this work simply because they have served in the RUC.
“The corporate memory of the RUC has already suffered irreparable damage under the Patten reforms.
“Sinn Fein seek to undermine and discredit it further to peddle a false narrative of state wrongdoing and glorify terrorism.
“The DUP has called out these actions before and will do so again. We stand ready to defend the gallantry and professionalism of those who faced down terrorism and continue to do so today.’’