Friday 20 July 2018 06:33:19 PM

Ritchie Calls For Police Ombudsman To Go
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IN A scathing attack on the Police Ombudsman following the release of the Loughinisland Massacre Report, SDLP Leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has called for the Al Hutchinson, the Police Ombudsman, to resign after his report into the 1994 Loughinisland murders put failures in the police investigation down to incompetence rather than collusion.

Ms Ritchie said these findings were contrary to a mountain of evidence which pointed to collusion including the failure to examine evidence, evidence which was destroyed, the failure to investigate the role of informers and Special Branch.

She said, “After a very long wait the Ombudsman’s Report has come up short on Loughinisland. It completely lets down the victim’s families and the wider community. The Ombudsman has hidden behind a narrow legislative interpretation of his own role and has therefore produced a very limited report from a very limited investigation.

“Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary he has concluded that there was no collusion. He has failed to investigate the role of informers and Special Branch. He seems to think that the failure of the RUC Investigators to cooperate, the systematic destruction of evidence, the systematic failure to follow leads, even the outrageous failure to finger print or DNA test suspects was mere incompetence rather that collusion. It was collusion.

“Al Hutchinson paints a picture of an incompetent keystone-cops type of police force when the reality was that in the Loughinisland investigation the RUC and Special Branch were rotten to the core.

“I have sought a meeting with the Irish Government on Loughinisland, the issue of collusion and the role of the Ombudsman. The Irish Government have a responsibility to the people of Ireland, and in the interest of Justice to investigate this flawed report.

“The Ombudsman has done a great disservice to the families of those murdered in The Heights Bar Loughinisland, as he has done to other groups of victims. It is now time for him to go. The office of the Police Ombudsman is vitally important to confidence in policing and justice in the North and Mr Hutchinson has repeatedly failed to measure up. This office needs new leadership. Al Hutchinson must now do the honourable thing.”