Belfast Telegraph

Confidence in policing at a new low, says SF as party meets Ombudsman

Time for Truth activists outside the Sean Graham bookmakers’ on the Ormeau Road in Belfast on Saturday
Time for Truth activists outside the Sean Graham bookmakers’ on the Ormeau Road in Belfast on Saturday
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Sinn Fein will meet the Police Ombudsman, senior members of the PSNI and families of the victims of the Sean Graham bookmakers' attack and other killings today.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald and her deputy Michelle O'Neill will head delegations to discuss last week's revelations that police failed to disclose key information to investigations by the Police Ombudsman into the shootings.

Families of the Omagh bomb victims have also expressed concerns that the PSNI may not have given the Ombudsman all information in their cases.

Five people were killed on February 5, 1992, when members of the UFF opened fire on Sean Graham bookmakers on the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast.

Before today's meetings, Ms McDonald claimed that last week's events provided further evidence of a systemic cover-up of the role of British forces in Troubles killings.

"Confidence in policing is at its lowest level for many years. The delays in implementing the legacy structures agreed at Stormont House in 2014 must end," she said.

"The British Government must immediately provide funding to the Lord Chief Justice for legacy inquests and adequate funding to the Ombudsman's office to properly discharge its duties without further hindrance to its investigations.

"It was heartbreaking to hear the son of one of the victims saying publicly that it was 'demoralising' that justice had been delayed once again.

"Justice delayed is justice denied."

Meanwhile, campaigners calling for funding to help families bereaved in Northern Ireland's past to get the truth took to the streets of Belfast on Saturday. Time for Truth activists went to a number of locations across Belfast, including the Ormeau Road, calling for the implementation of legacy mechanisms which were negotiated in the Stormont House Agreement, adequate funding of legacy inquests and of the Police Ombudsman's office to allow it to complete outstanding historical investigations.

Tommy Duffin, whose 66-year-old father Jack was the oldest of those killed in the Sean Graham attack, was among the activists.

"The Stormont House Agreement has to be put in place, and the legacy inquests and Ombudsman need to be properly resourced," he said.

"Not just for us but all the families waiting for the answers they need."

Marian Walsh, mother of teenage victim Damien Walsh, refused to accept a PSNI apology and accused police of a "sham" and "excuses".

Time For Truth spokesman Ciaran MacAirt urged people to sign the petition in solidarity with victims and survivors.

"Families from the Ormeau Road have been failed yet again by police investigating atrocities in the past," he said.

"Hundreds of other families are experiencing the same and are being retraumatised daily. This could be our final opportunity to deal with the past."

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