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Ombudsman Hutchinson: Former Mountie with impressive record

Al Hutchinson spent more than 30 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

But following the criticisms by some families of victims of the McGurk’s bar massacre, it proves that Northern Ireland is an entirely different proposition for him.

It is now more than two years since he took over as Police Ombudsman from Nuala O’Loan and, while it was a hard act to follow, his record until this week had been unblemished.

Hutchinson first came to Northern Ireland in January 2004 to take over from another senior figure involved in the delicate aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement — Police Oversight Commissioner Tom Constantine.

The former New York state chief of police had a reputation for dealing with drug dealers which led to an organisation dedicated to educating children about drugs.

Hutchinson appeared cut from the same steely cloth with a CV which included drug enforcement and public order. Their role was to oversee the transition from the former RUC, via the Patten reforms, to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which republicans could buy into supporting and working with.

Hutchinson brought completion to the work which Constantine began and then shifted almost seamlessly into the O’Loan role.

A graduate of Carleton University, Ottawa, and Queen's University, Belfast, he rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner in the Mounties during nearly 34 years of service which saw postings in the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Ottawa (HQ), New Brunswick, Toronto and London, Ontario.

His other duties included general policing, economic crime and VIP protection.

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