HET denies anti-loyalist bias claim

The Historical Enquiries Team has defended itself against allegations of bias against the unionist community, after a protest was held outside police headquarters in Belfast.

Protesta Progressive Unionist PartyMembers of the Progressive Unionist Party held the demonstration on Tuesday morning, claiming the HET are unfairly targeting loyalists.

The investigations of the special unit, which was formed re-examine Troubles deaths between 1968 and 1998, have led to 72 arrests so far.

Of these, 65 were part of Operation Ballast, which examined the activities of the UVF in north Belfast, primarily a unit based in the Mount Vernon estate.

“They are treating the working class Unionist communities with utter contempt,” PUP leader Brian Irvine told UTV.

“I don’t have a problem with historical enquiries – it’s the way they’re going about it.”

Dave Cox from the HET explained that they had taken on Operation Ballast following orders from the Police Ombudsman, and this had led to an imbalance.

He told UTV: “The imbalance is because we were investigating Operation Ballast out of sequence, as referred to us by the Police Ombudsman – really a huge case involving serious, organised crime as well as paramilitary, sectarian murders.

“The HET had to take on this case because we were passed it by the ombudsman as a matter of public interest, but because of the scale of the case it has now been taken back by the PSNI to progress.”

It comes after UUP representative and Policing Board member Basil McCrea criticised the organisation in a newspaper interview.

“I have been warning repeatedly at the policing board that if we do not deal with this perceived imbalance then there is the potential for problems in the months and years to come,” he told the Newsletter.

“It must be remembered that the majority of killings were carried out by the Provisional IRA and any continuation of the peace process that does not recognise that fact is in danger of causing considerable unrest.”