Belfast Telegraph

Amnesty International accuses retired police group of 'PR stunt' ... for 12 minutes

The organisation sent out a new statement minutes after its first response.
The organisation sent out a new statement minutes after its first response.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Amnesty International accused the association representing retired police officers of a "PR stunt" - but only for 12 minutes.

It comes after the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers' Association (NIRPOA) called on the organisation to retract comments made by its Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan in which he claimed police helped those involved in the Loughinisland massacre "evade justice".

He made the comments the day before a court hearing of a judicial review into the granting of a warrant for raids on the homes of two journalists who examined the investigation into the 1994 loyalist attack.

NIRPOA - which represents more than 3,500 retired officers - described the comments as "highly offensive" saying they were "wholly unfounded" and a "slur", in a letter seen by the Belfast Telegraph.

It also expressed concern at how Mr Corrigan highlighted how police carried guns during the raids on the reporters' homes given how police in Northern Ireland are routinely armed given the threat they face.

Amnesty initially said it was not in a position to comment on the letter as it had not yet received it.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday afternoon the organisation gave its full support to Mr Corrigan.

It also expressed concern a report of the letter made it into Tuesday's paper.

“We only received the letter this morning," said a statement, "and are concerned that the NIRPOA appear to have prioritised giving it to local media. This is nothing more than a PR stunt by the NIRPOA.”

However, 12 minutes later a new statement was released urging the media to "please use this version" which omitted the claim of a PR stunt.

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