Families furious at PSNI legal action
The families of six Catholic men shot dead by the UVF in Co Down twenty years ago have spoken of their anger at allegations that the PSNI is obstructing an investigation into the murders.
Wednesday, 04 June 2014
No-one has ever been convicted over the loyalist gun attack on a bar in Loughinisland in 1994.
The Police Ombudsman this week served notice on the PSNI that he is to take legal action over its alleged refusal to provide investigators with information on more than 100 occasions, stalling investigations into over 60 deaths, which are understood to include those at the Heights Bar.
Michael McGuire said he is taking the Chief Constable to court in an attempt to force police to hand over intelligence material believed to be protecting informers to the security forces.
Claire Rogan, whose husband Adrian was killed in the Loughinisland attack, is outraged.
She said: "Why has it taken all this time for us to become aware that police hadn't given all the information that they hold? There's some kind of hope that maybe now we will get answers."
Former ombudsman Al Hutchinson reported that the RUC had failed to properly investigate what happened in Loughinisland, but said there was insufficient evidence of collusion. The findings were quashed after a legal challenge by the families and Dr Maguire is conducting a new investigation.
Moira Casement, whose 87-year-old uncle Barney Green was also among the victims of the 1994 gun attack, said the families are demanding to know the truth.
"We are furious at this development," she continued.
It is absolutely unbelievable that the chief constable would refuse to co-operate with the ombudsman. Who does he think he is?
"The ombudsman has an absolute entitlement to demand details on the intelligence that police hold on who murdered our loved ones," she said.
"What is the chief constable trying to hide? Who is he covering up for? These deliberate cover ups and obstruction are costing millions but the truth costs nothing. It's time for truth."
In a statement the PSNI said it is currently seeking to agree a solution with the Police Ombudsman around what it has described as "complicated and sometimes unfortunately competing legal issues".
It added: "Until we can get a resolution, PSNI believes that it has responded appropriately to each request, giving careful consideration on a case by case basis, to ensure that the respective legal requirements are met."
Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin said it is a "very serious" situation.
He added: "The magnitude of this is frightening, over 100 cases where information has been refused, about 60 cases which involved killings and the families and relatives of those involved.
"For me the duty is very clear - the ombudsman is there to investigate and he needs to have the information to do that investigation."
Jonathan Craig of the DUP, who sits on the Policing Board, said the legal action was regrettable and added: "Nobody has a blank cheque when it comes to gaining intelligence information."