Belfast Telegraph

Families anger at delay over report into 1992 Ormeau bookies massacre

BY SUZANNE BREEN

THE families of five men murdered by loyalists in a Belfast bookmaker's shop say they are "deeply distressed and angry" that the publication of the Police Ombudsman's report into the massacre has been delayed.

The Ombdudsman's office has said three reports into historic killings, including the 1992 UDA attack at Sean Graham's bookmakers on the Lower Ormeau Road, won't be published pending the Loughinisland legal challenge. The families have been informed by an Ombudsman official that "any investigation which had been finalised and was awaiting the publication of a public statement will ... unfortunately have to await the outcome of the current litigation".

She acknowledged that the news would disappoint relatives.

"It is important for the office to have clarity around its powers, particularly where they result in a public statement," she added.

In a statement last night issued through Relatives for Justice, the five families bereaved in the massacre said they were devastated by the news.

Tommy Duffin who lost his father Jack said successive deadlines to publish the report had been missed.

"There are a number of elderly relatives waiting. My mother is 90 and increasingly frail," Mr Duffin said. "Rosie McManus, who lost her husband Willy in the attack, is 78 and recently suffered a stroke. Clara Magee lost her 18-year-old son, Peter, and is now 87 and very frail.

"Given this delay, the likelihood of them surviving to see the publication of this report is very slim. The families are deeply angry at this development.

"We call for the report to be released immediately. The facts stand for themselves."

The other cases affected by the decision are the 1993 loyalist murder of Catholic teenager Damien Walsh at the Dairy Farm centre in Twinbrook, and an examination surrounding 19 murders and three attempted murders in the north Antrim and south Londonderry areas in the early to mid-1990s.

Relatives for Justice caseworker Paul Butler said: "Roadblock after roadblock has been placed in the way of the Ombudsman from funding cuts to having to resort to judicial action against the PSNI to obtain intelligence on these and other killings, and now this latest legal challenge taken by, among others, a former head of Special Branch that has had the result of postponing publication of completed reports."

Retired police officers have taken a judicial review of Dr Michael Maguire's conclusion that some RUC members colluded with the UVF gunmen in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre,

The Ombudsman has promised to keep families informed as the situation develops.

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