19/02/2003

Orde defends his Bloody Sunday comments

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has come out in defence of remarks he made in yesterday's Financial Times newspaper when he claimed that the latest Bloody Sunday Inquiry was a "waste of money".

In a statement yesterday evening, Mr Orde said it was important to find out the truth about what happened on Bloody Sunday and that it was not his intention to cast doubts on the legitimacy of that inquiry.

He also said he was willing to meet with families of the victims to discuss his comments if they so wished.

“Society has a responsibility to find out what has happened in historical cases, but we must also meet the needs of the present," he said.

“There are a growing number of calls for investigations into historical cases and what I was saying is that perhaps now is the time to look again at how we go about establishing the truth and meeting the needs of victims and their families."

However, the Chief Constable continued to attract criticism today for his comments despite explaining the nature his remarks.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan slammed the Chief Constable for what he described as his "insensitivity and ignorance" towards Bloody Sunday victims.

"The Bloody Sunday Inquiry may be proving expensive but that is partly because of the various legal challenges that the military and Ministry of Defence have engaged in," he said.

"It is precisely because too many people in high places were hostile or indifferent to the need for truth about Bloody Sunday over so many years that an inquiry of this nature is so necessary to properly vindicate the innocent victims and bring out the truth."

Prime Minister Tony Blair established the Bloody Sunday Saville Inquiry in 1998 after a campaign by the families of the 14 people killed as a result of events on 30 January 1972 during a civil rights march in Londonderry.

The final cost of the tribunal, led by Lord Saville of Newdigate, could rests around the £150 million mark, and the inquiry's conclusions are not expected until next year.

(MB)

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