PPS must be capable of commanding cross-community confidence

DUP East Belfast MLA Joanne Bunting has said the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) must be capable of commanding cross-community confidence.

By Joanne Bunting MLA

Belfast East

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Responding to the latest in a string of no-prosecution decisions flowing from Operation Kenova, Ms Bunting - who is also Chairperson of the Assembly’s Justice Committee - said:

‘‘I find it astonishing that the PPS has failed to deliver any prosecutions in connection with Operation Kenova.

Almost £40m of taxpayers’ money has been spent bringing these cases. It has taken the investigation many years to complete and almost as long for the PPS to reach a determination in some cases. Despite this, the end result for every family has been the same - justice denied and no day in court.

This outcome is galling when we consider how widespread the infiltration of the republican movement was by the security services. If the PPS is unwilling to bring a single prosecution despite Kenova lifting the veil on the criminal underworld of the Provisional IRA, it has a corrosive effect on our justice system going forward.

Dismay at the latest decision will be felt acutely in unionist communities, where there is already a perception that the PPS has been overzealous in pursuing bandsmen and dying loyalists.

This approach stands in stark contrast to the decision not to prosecute senior members of Sinn Fein in connection with the Bobby Storey funeral or other nationalist politicians who took part in un-notified parades.

The PPS must be beyond any suggestion of being unbalanced and be able to demonstrate that justice is blind.

Political expediency must never play any part in the decision to prosecute, otherwise it runs the risk of inheriting the mantle of two-tier justice that has engulfed the PSNI.’’

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