A troubling question about the conduct of the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Barra McGrory has been raised by a report today in Belfast that Mr McGrory may have ordered the PSNI probe into the Boston College oral history archive when he should have recused himself because of a conflict of interest.
Today’s (Tuesday’s) News Letter reports that at a weekend victims conference in Enniskillen, the PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton said that historical investigations into ordinary victims’ killings have been hampered because the DPP’s office is using all of the force’s legacy resources conducting investigations ordered by Mr McGrory.
These include probes of Bloody Sunday, the Military Reaction Force, the ‘on the runs’ controversy and the Boston College archive, an investigation which initially was confined to the killing and disappearance by the IRA of alleged informer Jean McConville.
If, as the Chief Constable appears to be saying, Mr McGrory ordered the Boston College probe then it created a conflict of interest since his former client, Gerry Adams was already publicly embroiled in allegations that he was involved in the McConville affair. If this is what happened then Mr McGrory should have recused himself.
At the time that the PSNI probe of the archive got underway two prominent republicans and critics of Gerry Adams, Brendan Hughes, who was dead, and Dolours Price had spoken publicly about the McConville disappearance, and one, Brendan Hughes had implicated Gerry Adams. Dolours Price had allegedly implicated herself in an interview with The Irish News.
This is what the News Letter reported:
Mr Hamilton said: “Under section 35 of the criminal justice act – the Justice (NI) Act 2002 – there is a duty on me when requested by the director of public prosecutions to supply information, to ascertain facts and report to him.
“Now the rest of us ordinary folk would call that an investigation, so effectively that is what it is. There are some circumstances where the director of public prosecutions can direct me to effectively conduct an investigation. There are other fluffy words around that, but that is in practice what it means.
“And it is actually in those cases that the majority of my legacy investigations branch officers are occupied at the moment.
“With finite resources available I have no option but to fulfil those legal obligations.”
Other cases which Mr Hamilton has been legally obliged to investigate, he said, include Bloody Sunday, the Military Reaction Force, the Boston College tapes and the ‘on the run’ letters scheme.
A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) spokeswoman did not contest Mr Hamilton’s assertions.