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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 17:02 GMT
Troubles murder review announced
Hugh Orde
Hugh Orde said the team will investigate Troubles killings
A team of 100 investigators is to review unsolved killings in Northern Ireland, the government has announced.

The review is an attempt to bring closure to families of hundreds of people killed in the Troubles.

More than 1,800 cases, half the total number of people killed during 30 years of the Troubles, remain unsolved.

The announcement was made by Secretary of State Paul Murphy and PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde at a news conference in Belfast.

Mr Murphy said that 32m would be put into the review over the next six years.

Outlining the scope of the review Mr Orde said it would cover the period 1969 to 1998, and that he hoped they would be able to tell the families of victims as much as they can about their loved one's death.

Mr Orde said the unit would include skilled support teams, fingerprint experts, analysts and investigators.

Some of the staff will be seconded from other UK police forces and from the Garda if possible, he said, adding that retired officers would also be recruited.

They will be headed by retired Metropolitan Police Commander David Cox.

"We will do our level best as police officers to pursue evidential leads," he said.

Joseph McIlwaine
Joseph McIlwaine was murdered by the IRA in 1987

"The other point, which I think is important is that many families are not looking for a judicial outcome - they are looking to know an awful lot more."

Mr Murphy said that for many of the families of those killed the pain of not knowing who was responsible and why they died continued to blight their lives many years on.

"You do need to have closure for people on their experiences, their very difficult and awful experiences of the past," he said.

"If this can do that then every penny of that thirty-odd million will be well worth spending."

The Police Federation has welcomed news of the review.

The killings of more than 200 police officers remain unsolved.

Federation chairman Irwin Montgomery said: "Everybody has a different idea of closure.

"Families just want to know what happened to their loved ones, they want to know the circumstances of the deaths, if they have any idea of who may have done it and if there is anything that can be done to bring those people to justice."

Lisburn woman Janet Hunter whose brother, Joseph McIlwaine, was killed by the IRA in 1987, said she welcomed the review but had some reservations.

"It's a step forward for some of the people of Northern Ireland that the police are given the money and the powers to be able to investigate," she told the BBC.

Kathy Nellis, who works with a victims' group in Londonderry, said she had no confidence in the review, as it would not bring closure to families whose loved ones were killed by "state violence".

"If it's about trying to look at some form of justice, then there has to be a willingness on the part of the state to be open to delivering that to families," she said.

Chris Ryder, a former member of the Police Authority, - which has now been replaced by the Policing Board - said the review would be a "futile exercise".

"DNA may help in some small number of cases but I think it's generally going to be a very futile exercise and it's not going to bring the comfort of closure, any sense of justice, to the vast majority," he said.

30m may go to 'cold case probe'
26 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
Killings will 'go unsolved'
10 Jun 03 |  Northern Ireland

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