Belfast Telegraph

Loughinisland report 'unlawful': I won't quit and could appeal verdict says Police Ombudsman

By Jonathan Bell

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire has said he isn't for quitting and may appeal a damning judgement on a major report compiled by his office.

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

Mr Justice McCloskey ruled the report, which found RUC officers colluded with loyalists who massacred six Catholic men, was 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.

UVF gunmen opened fire in the Co Down village pub as their victims watched a World Cup football match in June 1994.

The men killed were: Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Barney Green, 87, Daniel McCreanor 59, Patrick O'Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39. Five others were wounded in the attack.

In the wake of the damning judgement there have been calls for Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire to consider his position. He rejected the call.

"I have an obligation as Police Ombudsman to those who have trusted this office with their complaints and those are complaints from across Northern Ireland society and both sides of the community," he told the BBC.

"I have a job to do on thinking through how we deal with those complaints. My focus is on looking at the implications and what steps are to be taken.

"I will not be considering quitting."

A second hearing will be held in the new year which will consider if the report should be quashed. Dr Maguire said his office would take its time to go through Thursday's judgement and could appeal it. He said he was "very disappointed" with the ruling.

"It's a complex issue and the implications are broad and go far beyond just the remit of his office.

"The implications of what the judge said will have huge impact on the work of this office in terms of legacy work and how any future organisation deals with legacy work. And that is important."

He added: "In terms of collusion, the topic of collusion runs as a seam through the narrative of Northern Ireland and I took a view as to how collusion worked in the context of the Loughinisland report and the judge has disagreed with that.

"Certainly the definition of collusion is going to be significant as we work things though. The judge has developed his own idea of what collusion is. I will look at that in the context of what we need to do and understand it."

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