Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley calls for investigation into all previous Ombudsman reports where collusion was alleged after Loughinisland ruling

By Claire Williamson

The DUP's Ian Paisley has called for an investigation into all previous Ombudsman reports where collusion was alleged after the High Court ruling on the Loughinisland atrocity.

The High Court ruled on Thursday that the Police Ombudsman went beyond his statutory powers in reaching conclusions on the Loughinisland atrocity.

Last summer, Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found that collusion between some RUC officers and loyalists was a significant feature in the murders.

Mr Justice McCloskey ruled the report "unlawful and procedurally unfair".

He also found that none of the police officers subjected to "destructive and withering condemnations" of colluding with UVF terrorists in the Heights Bar attack had the protection of due process.

"They were, in effect, accused, tried and convicted without notice and in their absence," he said.

The decision on whether to formally quash the Ombudsman's findings will be taken at a hearing next month.

Dr Maguire last night rejected calls to step down.

Sinn Fein has called for the judgement to be appealed.

Six Catholic men were shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as they watched a World Cup football match in a pub in Loughinisland, Co Down.

The victims were Adrian Rogan (34); Patrick O'Hare (35); Eamon Byrne (39); Malcolm Jenkinson (53); Daniel McCreanor (59), and Barney Green (87).

Five others were wounded.

On Friday DUP MP Ian Paisley said he had written to the Secretary of State calling for an investigation to be launched.

He tweeted: "Today I've written to the SOFS for NI calling on him to open an investigation into all previous Ombudsman reports from the first until now where collusion was alleged and move to set false accusations aside. Let's put record straight".

When asked further about it on the BBC Nolan Show Mr Paisley said "hopes have been raised" by previous reports.

He said: "Clearly the Ombudsman according to the judge got this one wrong.

"Justice must be seen to be done and done fairly. The only place where that is possible is the courts.

"Our money on policing should be about today and should not be about policing the past. There needs to be a separate mechanism to do that. "

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said the court ruling highlights the need for an agreed definition of collusion to be reached.

Mr Beattie said:  “The High Court ruling that the Police Ombudsman’s findings of collusion in the report into the Loughinisland murders went beyond the Police Ombudsman's legal powers and was "unsustainable in law" should be a wake-up call.

“Those who were murdered at Loughinisland are the victims and those who took their lives must be brought to justice like so many other terrorists.  We must never lose sight of this fact.

“I am concerned that the charge of collusion has been thrown about so widely that it has almost become meaningless. Language is important and I am concerned that the term ‘collusion’ has also been mis-appropriated. It has been used so casually – often deliberately so – that it is now an everyday word when used to describe our troubled past and I am in no doubt that it would be helpful - certainly in the context of the troubles – if it was given an agreed definition.

He added: “The casual use of terms such as collusion is not helpful and the definition has been stretched so wide on occasion as to render it almost meaningless while at the same time having a serious detrimental impact on the likes of the PSNI and RUC in particular.

“Going forward –and in light of the High Court ruling regarding the Loughinisland report -  I believe we need to arrive at an agreed definition in order to examine what really happened on both sides of the border.”

Meanwhile Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly has called for the judgement to be appealed.

He said: “I believe that the yesterday’s decision in the case of the Loughinisland Massacre should be appealed as it has possibly catastrophic implication for the setting up of the investigative process of the Historic Investigations Unit.

“As the Ombudsman himself and the Chief Constable have said these structures should be set up so legacy cases can be dealt with but the British government and political unionism are blocking this.

"The Office of the Police Ombudsman remains the most important accountability mechanism with a remit to hold the police to account. It is therefore crucial in building confidence in our new policing dispensation.

"In recent years Dr Michael Maguire has done much to rebuild public confidence in this Office. He has done this in the face of the British government adopting a policy of reducing resources allocated to his office and therefore frustrating the ability to deal with the backlog of cases.

"In the current environment, legacy inquests and the Office of the Police Ombudsman are the only mechanisms through which families can achieve recourse to truth and justice. Many of these families have waited over 40 years for this basic right.

"Former members of the RUC have deliberately attempted to undermine the Office in an effort to frustrate justice for these families and to continue the cover up of the murders of hundreds of citizens by the British state and in collusion with unionist paramilitary surrogates.

"The Police Ombudsman's Office has delivered disclosure and closure to several families who have been ignored and neglected by the state for a lifetime.

“Despite DUP attacks in recent days the Office of the Ombudsman and the work of Michael Maguire is crucial to current policing and indeed in legacy cases."

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