‘My Charlie isn’t on HET priority list,’ says widow

By Scott Jamison

The widow of a South Belfast man shot dead by the UFF says she has no hope of her late husband’s killers being brought to justice, despite the body investigating paramilitary killings asking for more funding that would allow it to look into hundreds more cases.

The Policing Board wrote to the Department of Justice last Wednesday (October 19) to request further funding for the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) that would mean it could investigate an extra  400 Troubles killings.  If the request is successful, it would mean the body would gain an extension beyond its current closure date of March 2013 until early 2014.

But Catherine Gormley, whose husband Charles McGrillen was shot dead by the UFF at his place of work in the Dunnes Stores supermarket in Annadale Embankment on March 15, 1988, said the relatively slow progress of the HET means she holds no expectations of his case being taken up again.

“I don’t have any hope of them doing anything at all, regardless of how much money they get,” said Catherine. “I have waited and watched as the years have passed and I see a priority list of importance. It’s quite clear Charlie just isn’t on it.

“Every time I write to them I receive a letter telling me what year they’re on. They are still in the 1970s and Charlie was murdered in 1988. Cases have been brought forward time and time again, but they have had groups and people backing them, and I’m fighting to get justice for Charlie on my own.

“Maybe somewhere along the line when the HET is looking into someone else’s case Charles will be brought into it, perhaps because it was the same person who killed him or the same gun was used. But I’m not very hopeful.”

The HET was first threatened with closure in July 2010 when it was revealed the annual police budget could not cover its £6m-a-year costs. Despite PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott saying at the time that “a line should be drawn under” the body, it received a £13m injection.

But Catherine, who was living in Hatfield Street in the Lower Ormeau with her late husband when he was gunned down, said the HET was a sop to victims, as most were still left without any answers as to how their loved ones died.

“In my eyes they have wasted enough money to this point,” she said.

“The dogs on the street could give families better answers. They and a few other groups treat victims as a way to simply stay in a job.”

A HET spokesperson said its primary objective was to work closely with families on the investigations into the deaths of their loved ones and that it tried to answer all questions and concerns over the cases.

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