Mixed reaction to appointment of former RUC officer Peter Sheridan as ICRIR commissioner

Peter Sheridan (Photo: Liam McBurney)
Peter Sheridan (Photo: Liam McBurney)

Although several former police officers who worked alongside Mr Sheridan during his policing career have welcomed the news, some victims’ representatives and campaign groups have expressed concern.

The Pat Finucane Centre said the appointment of someone who served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the ICRIR (Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery), “beggars belief”.

In a statement on social media, the PFC said: “The appointment of a former RUC officer to oversee the investigation of historic cases of state violence and collusion simply beggars belief”.

Kenny Donaldson of SEFF said the problem lies with the legislation that created the ICRIR – not with those tasked to take on the role.

Mr Donaldson said: ​“We opposed the Legacy and Reconciliation Bill last week and we oppose it this week. And we oppose it for legitimate reasons, the structures proposed, disempower victims and strive to condition people into accepting that which they should never be asked to absorb.

"In some ways it is therefore a moot point as to who the individual appointed as commissioner would be”.

However, Mr Donaldson also said that victims of republican terrorism remain aggrieved that Mr Sheridan – he describes as being “at the heart of” the controversial ‘on the runs’ assurance scheme – has “yet to make a full account to those who were greatest impacted”.

In a Twitter post, the Pat Finucane Centre said: “Years of campaigning for independent investigations have been thrown out the window with this appointment.”

In response to that message, former senior police officer Jon Burrows said: “Play the ball not the man. I too disagree with the legacy law that subverts justice, but Mr Sheridan is an honourable man”.

Another former police officer posted the response: “The agenda of slurring the reputation of anyone who had association with the RUC continues unabated. Anyone with an ounce of sense can see how well Peter is qualified for this extremely difficult role”.