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Inquiries report criticised by SF

7 July 08 17:27 GMT

Sinn Féin has criticised an MPs' report which said the cost of inquiries into Northern Ireland's past is "financially unsustainable".

The NI Affairs Committee said the huge bill for inquiries, investigations and inquests is undermining the ability of the police to deal with current crimes.

It said the Assembly should decide if there are any future inquiries.

It was also revealed that the cost of the Saville inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday is now £188m.

The estimated cost of ongoing inquiries and investigations during the next financial year is £100m.

The unanimous view of the committee, which includes MPs from the DUP, SDLP and Ulster Unionists, was that those costs are unsustainable.

The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell said allegations of wrong-doing by the security forces must be investigated, but does not believe inquiries are the answer.

'Concern'

"I don't see a lot of demand in the future for further inquiries because I think the public are beginning to be concerned about the substantial amount of money in these inquiries that can go to lawyers and others, but with no direct benefit to the victims or their families," he said.

In future, the committee said the Assembly should decide if there are any further inquiries with cross-party support required

Sinn Féin has criticised the report - saying British government "concealment and cover-up" had added to the costs.

The chief constable, Sir Hugh Orde, said reinvestigating the past is important because it brings closure for families, but added that it could threaten the PSNI's ability to do their day-to-day work.

"I will continue to deliver a day-to-day policing service, but if the push comes to shove and I have to make a hard decision around what do I do, I'm very clear," he said.

"I will deliver on protecting people who are still alive and protecting people who are out there now.

"As a consequence of that, delay will build into what I can supply to public inquiries."

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