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Policing watchdog cannot investigate informer complaints

‘We can’t probe bids to recruit informers’

THE Police OOmbudsman’s office has admitted it cannot investigate claims about attempts to recruit members of the public as police informers. The SDLP is to seek a meeting with Ombudsman Michael Maguire, such is the concern that not all aspects of policing in the North can be investigated by a body accountable to devolved administration at Stormont.


The revelation came after a Co Tyrone man who complained to Dr Maguire’s office was told to forward his complaint to a PO box in London. Patrick Carty from human rights group Justicofe Watch Ireland last night said the case appears to represent “a seismic shift in the job of the Police Ombudsman”. The controversy centres on the Tyrone man’s complaint that police were “harassing” him after he was subjected to two stop-and-search operations and two attempts to recruit him as an informer in the Dungannon area. The man claimed that a uniformed officer tried to push a “wad” of cash through the window of his work van at the side of a busy main road and that weeks later he was approached outside his work by plain-clothes officers. He lodged a complaint with the ombudsman but an official wrote to him to say the matter “falls outside the remit of the office”. He was told to contact the Investigatory Powers Tribunal through a PO box address in London. It is understood to be the first time that the Ombudsman’s office has admitted it was unable to investigate a specific complaint against police because the allegations related “solely to approaches to become a covert human intelligence source”.

‘The Police Ombudsman responsible for investigating all complaints against the PSNI and I find that a strange interpretation of the functions of the Ombudsman and something we will want to discuss further - Dolores Kelly.

Policing board member and SDLP deputy leader Dolores Kelly dedescribed the development as a “strange departure on previous practice” and said she had raised the case with senior police. In the past the SDLP has expressed concerns about a lack of local accountability for security agencies – including MI5 – and the party is opposed to the establishment of the National Crime Agency in the North. Ms Kelly, said she was surprised by Ombadsman’s response. “The Police Ombudsman is responsible for investigating all complaints against the PSNI and I find that strange interpretation of the functions of the ombusman and something we will want to discuss further,” she said. Ms Kelly said she has raised the case with Assistant Cheif Constable Drew Harris who oversees the operation of the PSNI’s C3 intelligence unit – formerly known as Special Branch. A spokesman for the ombudsman confirmed that those involved in the approaches were police officers under the direction of Chief Constable Matt (maggot) Baggot at the time. However, the spokesman could not say if authorisation was given at the time or retrospectively, saying that was a matter for the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. In the past the ombudsman has investigated complaints involving informers – most notably Operation Ballast. Which exposed collusion between the RUC and police agents within loyalist parmilitary groups. The ombudsman’s office issued a statement that read: “Members of the public can complain to the Police Ombudsman’s Office about any aspect of a police officer’s conduct which concerns them – there is no aspect of his or her public conduct which we cannot look at. “The Police Ombudsman’s Office looks at possible misconduct of police officers. However, the very fact that a Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act power has been used will not mean that there has been misconduct and the tribunal may be that appropriate forum in some cases. “In this case a member of the public complained to us that he had been stopped by police four times over a short period. He said these included instances when he had been at work and on two of the occasions he had been asked to become an informant. He said he felt he was being harrassed. “The police were allowed in prescribed circumstances to stop people and ask them questions andto ask them if they wish to become informants. A member of the public can complain, however, about the manner in which this is done or the conduct of the officers doing it. “In this particular complaint our investigators took the veiw that there was nothing about the officer’s conduct which indicated they were guilty of misconduct, nor indeed that, taken togeather, the incidents amounted to harrassment. “While we have looked at the conduct of the police involved, we have advised the complainant that if he remains concerned about the approaches asking him to become an informant, he may wish to contact the tribunal.” Patrick Carty from human rights group Justice Watch Ireland, last night expressed concern at the development. “It was our beleif that the Police Ombudsman had full investigatory powers in all aspects of the PSNI and its work,” he said. “This case shows that dealing with legislation such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and covert human intelligence sources, that is not the case. “It seems the authority of the security services, such as MI5, when working with the PSNI supersedes these structures. Fermanagh and South Tyrone Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliot said informers were needed in the fight against dissident republicans. “There is terrorism ongoing at the moment including from republicans. If police believe informers are needed and can help then I don’t think anyone should be trying to indicate otherwise,” he said. “Every campaign in the Troubles required informers.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News

Dr Michael Maguire to be NI Police Ombudsman

Dr Michael Maguire
Dr Michael Maguire is Northern Ireland‘s third Police Ombudsman

Dr Michael Maguire has been confirmed as Northern Ireland’s new Police Ombudsman.

Al Hutchinson stepped down from the role in January after criticism of the performance of his office, which holds the police service to account.

Dr Maguire is currently the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hutchinson became the second police ombudsman for Northern Ireland when he succeeded Nuala O’Loan in 2007.

In 2011, three independent reports were highly critical of the work being carried out by the ombudsman’s office.

Last month, Justice Minister David Ford began a public consultation on reforms to the Police Ombudsman’s Office, covering proposed changes to its structure, role and powers.

Mr Ford said the consultation outlined the potential for “significant changes” to the office’s law and governance.

Dr Maguire has worked at Criminal Justice Inspection since 2008.

Before that, he was a partner in a consulting firm, and he has been involved in strategic and organisational reviews across the public sector.

He was chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2006.

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Sam Marshall Family Continue Demand for Inquest

Sam Marshall

Last Friday [March 23], what was officially described as a preliminary hearing by the Six County Coroner, John Leckey, was held into the murder of former republican prisoner Sam Marshall in Lurgan on 7th March, 1990. Ever since his murder, the Marshall family have always suspected state involvement in his death. However, the events which transpired at the Coroner’s Court in Belfast amounted to nothing less than a farce.

On Wednesday 21st March, the Coroner’s Office faxed a letter to the Marshall family’s legal representative.

Lest there be any doubt what the purpose of the proposed hearing was meant to be, the communication from the Coroner’s Office clearly and unequivocally stated:

“The agenda is:

  1. Disclosure
  2. Arrangements to hold an inquest.”

However, from the outset of the hearing, it quickly became apparent that this agenda was not, in fact, to be adhered to.

Beginning by repeating what he said at a similar hearing in 2008 into the Marshall murder, Mr Leckey said that as a trial linked to the murder had been held (in 1992), he was now of the view that he would further delay a decision on any inquest until an investigation is conducted by the Police Ombudsman’s office in case it unearths new information.

The Coroner said: “At the present time I cannot say an inquest is necessary and I am delaying that decision until after the Police Ombudsman’s report.”

Last year, the Police Ombudsman’s office, which probes complaints against the Six County police force, was hit by a damning report on its handling of “historic” cases where collusion between British state forces and unionist death squads is suspected. As a result, all such cases were effectively put into abeyance.

A legal representative for the Six County Police Ombudsman’s office, Jim Kitson, told the hearing that it faced difficulties in investigating what he described as “historic cases”, but hoped those would be resolved and a plan to review all such cases could soon be implemented. He added that it could take at least six years before that initial process would be complete.

The Ombudsman’s legal representative also said it remains to be seen where Sam Marshall’s case will be allocated within the ‘Prioritisation Matrix’, so that the case can be investigated and reported. He confirmed that it had not even been allocated yet, and indeed could not give any assurances as to when this would take place.

The Coroner then said that he would take no further action until the Police Ombudsman’s case was completed – effectively suspending any decision on holding an inquest for at least six years or more.

Despite submissions opposing the Coroner’s move from legal representatives for the Marshall family and the two other men targeted in the shooting in 1990, Mr Leckey then closed the hearing.

In 2008, Mr Leckey directed the Marshall family to enter into a process with both the Historical Enquiries Team and the Police Ombudsman’s Office which the Marshall family reluctantly did.

In September last year, the Ombudsman’s Office finally wrote to the Marshall family informing them that three years on from 2008, no investigation had been initiated.

The Marshall family also reluctantly entered into a process with the HET which also commenced in 2008.

Earlier this month, on the twenty-second anniversary of Sam Marshall’s murder, his family launched a book detailing many previously unknown facts surrounding his death.

Thousands joined with the Marshall family in March 2010 to demand the truth about Sam's murderOver 400 people attended the book launch held in Lurgan on Wednesday 7th March. A second follow-up launch was also held in the Conway Mill in Belfast the following week.

Among the facts revealed in the book are:

  • Sam and the two men accompanying him at the time of his murder had been subjected to intense surveillance by Special Branch and British military personnel on the night of the attack – a fact previously and persistently denied by the RUC and the British Government.
  • The surveillance operation had commenced in late 1989. It was then suspended following the arrest and charging of all three men in January 1990 but was re-activated upon their release on bail.
  • The operation had been initiated by Special Branch personnel who regularly briefed the British military personnel involved in the operation.
  • The surveillance teams had followed the men each time they had signed for bail at Lurgan barracks prior to March 7th.
  • On the night of the murder, at least nine British undercover soldiers were engaged in the surveillance operation directed against the men.
  • On the night of the murder, the British soldiers were using a total of six cars: a red Ford Orion, a silver Vauxhall Cavalier, a grey Volkswagen Jetta, a grey Peugeot, a red Vauxhall Astra, and a red Austin Maestro with the registration plate bearing the number KJI 1486 – a car referred to by the two survivors of the attack and by other civilian witnesses at the time of the murder.
  • All of the soldiers denied being aware of any potential threat against Sam, even though he himself had been informed by the RUC of a potential death threat against him.
  • Two soldiers using the red Ford Orion drove to Lurgan Barracks to monitor the arrival and departure of Sam and his two companions.
  • These two soldiers were the men seen by Sam and his two companions the front observation post at the barracks.
  • Another two soldiers, using the silver Vauxhall Cavalier, parked their car and followed Sam and his two companions on foot along North Street.
  • These two soldiers also admitted they were only a short distance behind Sam and his two companions when the two gunmen opened fire.
  • The two soldiers also denied actually seeing the gunmen fire a total of 49 shots, but did admit to seeing the gunmen run back to the red Rover after the shooting. Neither took any action to stop the gunmen.
  • In a statement made to the RUC after the murder, one of these two soldiers on foot admitted that one of the survivors of the attack, Tony McCaughey, had actually ran past him in North Street as Tony was escaping from the gunmen.
  • In statements made to the RUC after the murder, none of the soldiers admitted seeing the red Rover prior to the shooting, even though it had been sighted on at least three occasions in North Street by several civilian witnesses.
  • Two gloves were recovered by the RUC from the area at Halliday’s Bridge on the M1 motorway where the red Rover was burned out.
  • Both gloves were placed in clearly marked and labelled evidence bags. These bags, containing the gloves, were obtained by the original RUC murder investigation team. The gloves were then “lost”.
  • Eighteen members of the CID and four uniformed RUC personnel were involved in the original murder investigation team.
  • The senior investigating officer over this team was Detective Chief Inspector Alan Clegg.
  • A second investigation team supervised by Detective Chief Inspector McFarland interviewed the British soldiers.
  • HET stated that DCI McFarland also interviewed “at least eight” of those Special Branch personnel who had been involved in briefing the British military surveillance team.
  • Out of 22 RUC personnel involved in the original murder investigation, along with “at least eight” Special Branch personnel involved with nine or more British soldiers connected to the surveillance operation – totalling a possible minimum of 39 members of the state forces – the HET only interviewed four RUC personnel.
  • The weapons used in the murder of Sam and the attempted murders of his two companions were ballistically linked to three other murders and one attempted murder in the Lurgan/Portadown/Dungannon area between 1991 and 1997.
  • Intelligence also linked a fourth murder to that of Sam’s.
  • The HET has consistently refused to indicate to our family where and when these murders took place.
  • No-one was ever been convicted in relation to these other four murders and the one attempted murder.
  • Although contacted by the HET, Detective Chief Inspector Clegg “did not engage”, in other words, refused to co-operate, with the HET. (Since then, Alan Clegg is deceased).

It should be pointed out many of the above facts were only disclosed to the Marshall family following a HET review of existing documentation held by the PSNI and not by a full re-investigation of the murder. The HET process in Sam’s case was solely based upon an examination of the documentation and material belonging to the RUC murder investigation team with no attempt having been made by the HET to uncover new evidence or intelligence that would actually solve his murder.

Furthermore, those facts that did emerge were deliberately withheld from the Marshall family and from the public for over twenty years.

Matt BaggottAdditionally, at a meeting with HET in 2011, the Marshall family was informed that the HET had not seen any evidence which would disprove collusion.

This would indicate that it was highly likely that the summary report of the HET review could well have been tempered for political expediency by senior officers within both the HET and the PSNI. The HET is an investigative unit attached to the PSNI. It is answerable to the Chief Constable of the PSNI. It is not independent in the true sense of the word and has been publicly criticised by several human rights organisations.

Mr Leckey has a copy of the HET review report and is aware of those facts contained in it.

What other “new” information does he now need in order to proceed with an inquest?

More significantly, what exactly happened in the 46 hours between 1.06pm on Wednesday 21st March, when the Coroner’s letter (quoted above) was faxed to the Marshall family’s legal representative, and 11.00am on Friday 23rd March when the hearing commenced which completely changed the agenda of the hearing?

Was pressure put on John Leckey to further delay making arrangements for an inquest into Sam Marshall’s murder? If so, who applied that pressure?

Any suggestion that the Coroners Court in the Six Counties is an effective or impartial means to address those cases where British state involvement is suspected was exploded by the farce that unfolded at court on Friday last.

Earlier, on the same morning as the hearing into Sam Marshall’s murder, the Coroner also further delayed commencement of the inquests into the infamous 1982 shoot-to-kill cases in which five unarmed republicans and one civilian were executed by the RUC in three separate shootings in County Armagh. In those cases, the PSNI is attempting to prevent the disclosure of many relevant documents it holds by way of Public Interest Immunity certificates. The PSNI is seeking to withhold vital sections from over 175,000 documents, containing over 1 million pages, from public disclosure.

It is quite clear that the Sam Marshall case is as explicit a case of collusion that exists – and that it is evidentially as strong in respect of collusion and British state involvement as the multiple murders of innocent civilians at Graham’s bookies on the Ormeau Road in Belfast or at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down.

Yet the Six County Coroner will not even give an undertaking to hold an inquest. It is totally irrational that he wants to wait on a Police Ombudsman report, which hasn’t even been allocated in the Ombudsman’s ‘prioritisation matrix’ and, as such, may not even be looked at by the Ombudsman for at least 6 years given the existing backlog of over seventy cases involving collusion.

It was therefore unsurprising that the Marshall family reacted with justifiable anger in the aftermath of the Coroner’s decision.

The family said they had fully expected the preliminary hearing in Belfast to agree arrangements for an inquest and added: “We are very angry and upset that after having to wait for twenty two years, we are now going to have to wait for up to a further six years. We are also actively considering legal action over the period ahead.”



Create a PageBoston College Subpoena News

McConville death secrets in Boston archive

McConville death secrets in Boston archive

January 24, 2012 Leave a Comment

McConville death secrets in Boston archive

Boston College Logotype

Published on Tuesday 24 January 2012

SEVERAL former terrorists did speak about Jean McConville’s murder on secret tapes held in Boston College, an American judge has dramatically confirmed.

The contents of the tapes were meant to remain in a vault at the US university until each paramilitary’s death, but the judge deciding whether they should be given to the PSNI has revealed some details of what they said.

The revelation comes as Northern Ireland’s former Police Ombudsman gave her backing to the detectives’ attempts to access the tapes – a bid that appears more likely to succeed in light of Judge William G Young’s written ruling.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan told the News Letter that police have a duty to pursue all avenues of inquiry when attempting to solve crime and that there should be no amnesty for terrorists.

The solicitor said that there was no legal basis on which academics or journalists could tell former terrorists that information about murders would be kept away from the police.

The secret recordings of former terrorists speaking candidly about their actions during the Troubles were given on the belief that they would be held in a vault at the American university until after each individual’s death.

However, a PSNI legal bid to access the archive in an attempt to solve the 40-year-old murder of Jean McConville is on the verge of being successful. A final appeal, lodged by two of those involved in the interviews, journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, is due to be heard in the coming days in what may be a final bid to prevent the tapes’ release after the college declined to appeal an earlier judgment in favour of the PSNI.

In his ruling, Judge William G Young said: “…only six interviewees even mention the disappearance of Jean McConville that constitutes the target of the subpoena.

“One interviewee provides information responsive to the subpoena. Another proffers information that, if broadly read, is responsive to the subpoena.

“Three others make passing mention of the incident, two only in response to leading questions. It is impossible to discern whether these three are commenting from personal knowledge, from hearsay, or are merely repeating local folklore.

“In context, the sixth interviewee does nothing more than express personal opinion on public disclosures made years after the incident.

“The court concludes that the full series of interviews of the five interviewees first mentioned above must be disclosed and that the interview with the sixth need not be produced.

“Moreover, two other interviewees mention a shadowy sub-organisation within the Irish Republican Army that may or may not be involved in the incident.”

However, Judge Young said that the references were “so vague” that it was almost inconceivable that UK law enforcement did not already have the information.

In the House of Lords, Baronness O’Loan – who sits as a crossbench peer but whose husband Declan was until last year the SDLP MLA for North Antrim – said that the Boston College tapes could be recovered by the police.

Baroness O’Loan raised the Boston College tapes in the context of the difficulties in “managing the past”. She cited it alongside the recent release of 1981 hunger strike Government papers which “appears to indicate that lives could have been saved”.

“Despite the facts that some of those involved [in the hunger strike] are still alive; there is no threat of prosecution; and that no amnesty is required – we do not have an agreed version of what happened,” she told the Lords.

“The second involves the recent controversy surrounding the British application for the tapes recorded by former IRA member Dolores Price and stored in an archive at Boston College in the United States.

“Since making that tape, Ms Price has indicated that she drove a number of the Disappeared to their deaths at the hands of the IRA. Police investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10, require access to the tapes for investigative purposes.

“The Boston project was predicated upon assurances that the tapes would not be disclosed until after a period of 30 years, or the death of the individual.

“It is obvious that such assurances could not lawfully be given. Journalists and academics are subject to the rule of law, as the rest of us are, and material can and will be recovered by the police according to the law for investigation purposes.”

Speaking to the News Letter, Baroness O’Loan said that the police were right to ask for the tapes.

“The police are under a duty to seek evidence if it can be secured and they are complying with that duty,” she said.

“This is a perfectly proper request on the part of the police. I think that if we have rules of law then the application of that law should be applicable to everyone — that should be the beginning and the end of it. Let the courts decide.”

Baroness O’Loan also told the Lords that the Government needed to “establish the rule of law” so as to deter recruitment by both dissident republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

And she said that suggestions of a truth commission — something supported by Sinn Fein and the Eames-Bradley report — were deeply problematic.

“It is now being suggested that the only way to deal with the past would be a truth commission, with an amnesty for all individuals who appear before it.

“To suggest this is to ignore international law, which provides that you can have no amnesty for gross violations of human rights.

“The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is often held up as a model, would not satisfy the requirements of international law. If we did what it did, we would have to establish an amnesty committee that would sit in public, before which people would have to appear to seek amnesty, and in the course of which they could be cross-examined by victims and their families.

“In South Africa 7,000 people applied; 849 were granted amnesty. Such hearings in Belfast could hardly be expected to consolidate the peace process.

“The consequential truth commission would hear testimony from individuals who chose to appear. Experience to date suggests there would be a very low participation rate.”

Caught in a Tug of War

Caught in a Tug of War

January 24, 2012 Leave a Comment

Caught in a tug of war
By Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe
JANUARY 24, 2012

Carrie Twomey left her home in Ireland to attend a court hearing about Boston College oral history project about the conflict in Northern Ireland for which her husband Anthony McIntyre was a researcher. She says her family will be in danger if the tapes are given to British authorities.

Carrie Twomey got off a train at South Station yesterday and walked down the platform of Track 5 enjoying, just for the moment, something she’d give anything to have permanently: total anonymity.

Her grandfather was from Lynn and her relatives worked at General Electric and the shoe factories. She grew up in California and married an Irishman named Anthony McIntyre and they made a life together in Ireland, first in the North, now in the South. She came to Boston because she believes the only way that life will be secure is if a bunch of tape recordings remain secured at the Burns Library at Boston College, and not turned over to the British government.

The fate of those tapes, in which former Irish Republican Army members discuss what they and others did during the war in Northern Ireland, has been cast as a legal drama, a precedent-setting case with potentially chilling effects on oral history and the peace process. But it is also very much about a family, about Carrie Twomey, her husband, and their two kids, a 10-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

Anthony McIntyre, who served 18 years in prison for IRA activity before getting his doctorate in history, was the researcher hired by Boston College to interview former IRA volunteers for an ambitious oral history project. He did this after BC guaranteed him and those he interviewed that those tape recordings would remain sealed until their deaths.

But last year, police in Northern Ireland started fishing for details in the BC archives about the IRA’s 1972 abduction, killing, and secret burial of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10 accused of being an informer.

US prosecutors, acting on a British government request, demanded BC turn over the tapes. At first, BC said it wouldn’t. Then its lawyers claimed it had to, at least those of Dolours Price, a former IRA volunteer who told a newspaper that she had told BC that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams ordered McConville’s slaying.

Adams has denied this, and whatever Price or anybody else told McIntyre for an academic project will not stand up in court, but that’s not what this is about anyway. It’s not about justice, it’s about revenge, and Carrie Twomey’s family is caught in the middle of pure politics masquerading as a search for truth.

US District Court Judge William Young occasionally holds motion hearings at local law schools, so students can get a sense of the real world. By sheer coincidence, today’s hearings, which include one on the BC tapes, will be held at BC Law School, and Carrie Twomey will be there.

She hopes part of that real world experience will include acceptance of the real possibility that her family is in danger if these tapes make it into the hands of British authorities and lead to either public disclosures or public prosecutions. For carrying out research for an American university that has been cynically turned into an intelligence-gathering operation for a foreign police force, her husband has been branded an informer by some in a culture where that can get you killed.

“Anthony’s been made into a hate figure,’’ she said. “Someone with a grudge, someone who wants to make a name for themselves, someone who’s unstable, that’s who we have to worry about.’’

She is not here to testify as a witness but to bear witness, to let the lawyers know there are real people involved. She says BC is too busy worrying about its institutional concerns to advocate for her family.

“I’m here to show that this isn’t just dusty old legal papers,’’ she said. “This is a real family.’’

Beyond the danger to her family, Carrie Twomey worries about the prospect of truth and reconciliation in a country where truth has become a political football, that Seamus Heaney’s poem about Northern Ireland will become self-fulfilling: Whatever you say, say nothing.

Complaint for Judicial Review

Complaint for Judicial Review

———————————————————————xED MOLONEY AND ANTHONY MCINTYRE,Plaintiffs,-
vs. -ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., ATTORNEY GENERALOF THE UNITED STATES, and JOHN T. McNEIL,COMMISSIONER IN RE: Request from the UnitedKingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between theGovernment of the United States of America and theGovernment of the United Kingdom on MutualAssistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price.Defendant.:::::::::::::::::::
28 U.S.C. §220128 U.S.C. § 13615 U.S.C. §70228 U.S.C. §1331———————————————————————x
Plaintiffs Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, by and through theirattorneys, Dornan & Associates PLLC, and the Law Offices of James J.Cotter III, as and for a Complaint against the Defendants, the AttorneyGeneral of the United States, and the Commissioner so described, herebymove the Court for judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act,5 U.S.C. §702
et seq,
as well as a Writ of Mandamus under 28 U.S.C.

Loughinisland victims’ families begin legal challenge to police report

Barney Green, at 87, became the oldest victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles when he was shot dead in Loughinisland in 1994. Photograph: Pacemaker Press

Barney Green, at 87, became the oldest victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles when he was shot dead in Loughinisland in 1994. Photograph: Pacemaker Press


Relatives of those who died in atrocity seek to overturn finding that there was no evidence of collusion between police and UVF

Families of victims gunned down in a bar by loyalists while watching Ireland beat Italy in the 1994 World Cup have started legal action to overturn a police ombudsman report into the massacre.

The relatives of those shot dead in the Loughinisland atrocity are challenging the report’s conclusions that there was no evidence of collusion between the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang responsible and the police.

Lawyers and families of the dead believe the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation was compromised because a number of those directly involved in the shooting were police informers. However, before being able to challenge the report, they are contesting a decision to refuse legal aid.

A judge has granted permission to seek a judicial review of the funding denial, after no opposition was raised at this stage. A full hearing on that preliminary issue will take place in June and the challenge to the ombudsman’s report is expected to follow this summer.

Six Catholic men were shot dead when the UVF sprayed the Heights bar in Loughinisland, County Down, with gunfire on 18 June 1994 – the night the Republic of Ireland played Italy in New York.

Among those who died in the attack was Barney Green, who at 87 was the oldest victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Five other men were seriously wounded.

No one has been convicted of the murders, although 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

In June last year, the outgoing police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Al Hutchinson, found there was not enough evidence of collusion between police and the loyalist gang, although he did identify failings in the investigation, criticising it for a lack of diligence, focus and leadership.

The legal challenge into his report will focus on a Criminal Justice Inspectorate review of Troubles-related investigations

WITH MANY THANKS TO : View this story on the Guardian


Row over call for Troubles amnesty 5th November 2007 Picture Jonathan Porter. Nuala O'Loan spends her last day in office as the Police Ombudsman and is to be succeeded by Al Hutchinson. 5th November 2007 Picture Jonathan Porter. Nuala O’Loan spends her last day in office as the Police Ombudsman and is to be succeeded by Al Hutchinson

THOSE who carried out some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles are already being given an “unofficial amnesty”, it has been claimed.

The comments were made by a victim’s relative in response to an interview by the Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson who said it would be impossible to properly investigate all the murders of the past.

Mr Hutchinson said an amnesty should be considered to deal with the past, but stressed that victims should make the decisions on individual cases.

Speaking to the News Letter last night Victims’ Commissioner, Brendan McAllister, said the idea of an amnesty would be “repugnant to the majority of victims”.

Mr Hutchinson said in an earlier radio interview: “I think the key here is that the victim would have a say whether or not they might consider amnesty and that would be a conditional amnesty.

“We’ve had amnesty by many other names, when you look at the two-year release in the peace agreement, you look at the inquiries that are ongoing.

“So it’s not as if it’s a new concept either locally or internationally.

“I take the pragmatic approach; it simply would be impossible probably to investigate to a criminal standard all murders,” he told the Sunday Sequence programme on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday morning.

Mark Eakin whose eight-year-old sister Kathryn was killed in the Claudy bombings in 1972, claimed that an amnesty was already in effect.

No paramilitary group has ever claimed responsibility for the attack in the Co Londonderry village, and no one has been convicted of it.

“I don’t think anyone would be too shocked by talk of an amnesty for those who carried out murders during the Troubles, as far as I can see there is already an amnesty of sorts,” he said.

In 2010, a Police Ombudsman report into Claudy found that a prime suspect – Fr James Chesney – had not been questioned by detectives.

“Personally, we {Claudy victims] are not even close to the stage of an amnesty. The IRA has never admitted the Claudy bombings, so any talk about an amnesty is down the line a bit.

“There are people walking about who have a lot to answer for – on both sides – if they don’t answer for it now, they will have to in the next life.

“It would not suit anyone especially the politicians for all the truth to come out, and that is why I don’t believe we ever get the truth. To be honest I am getting fed up – there is no proper structure in place to sort this all out, and there is a lack of will to sort it out,” he added.

Northern Ireland Victim’s Commissioner Brendan McAllister said the concept of any amnesty would be rejected by the majority of victims and relatives.

“I will have to listen to what Al Hutchinson has said in relation to an amnesty and what he means by conditional amnesty.

“But the Commission has already placed on record its position on amnesty and that is that it would be repugnant to the majority of victims.

“An amnesty would in effect be a denial of justice. We have already rejected the idea of an amnesty.”

Willie Frazer, who heads the FAIR victim’s group in south Armagh expressed his anger with the comments from the Ombudsman.

“Any sort of amnesty would be totally unacceptable,” he said.

“I have spoken to hundreds of victims and families and the last thing they would accept is an amnesty.

“To give an amnesty to those who carried out IRA murders, would be to give them further reason to glorify and justify their campaign of murder and terror.”

Mr Frazer claimed 98 per cent of IRA murders in south Armagh remain unsolved.

“An amnesty would end any hope of justice for the families,” he added.

With Many Thanks To : News Letter


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