The Policing Board is to ask the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) “to carry out an investigation which will examine the relationship between the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman” following a complaint against the Chief Constable lodged on behalf of two NGOs, British Irish Rights Watch and the Pat Finucane Centre. The two Human Rights organisations had complained to the Board following the rejection by the Chief Constable of the OPONI report into the Loyalist bombing of Mc Gurk’s Bar in 1971.
The Board has confirmed to the NGOs that they have requested that the CJI investigation focus “on how the PSNI internalises and operationalizes findings and recommendations arising from OPONI investigations.”
Welcoming news of the investigation BIRW Director Jane Winter said:
“The Chief Constable has set a potentially dangerous precedent. In rejecting this report, he has undermined a fundamental building block in the infrastructure of policing post Patten. If he takes it upon himself to pick and choose the outcome of PONI reports then he is in effect usurping the independent investigatory function of the office. It is not the role or function of the Chief Constable to interpret this material – it is the role of the Ombudsman.”
PFC Director Paul O’Connor added:
“What was required of the PSNI in the wake of publication of the OPONI report was a response similar to that of the Metropolitan Police following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Acknowledgement and a willingness to learn the hard lessons. Instead there was a collective refusal at Command level to accept the evidence that the RUC was blind to loyalist violence and was institutionally sectarian in how it dealt with one of the worst loyalist atrocities of the conflict.”
Fallout from Mc Gurk’s controversy
Pat Irvine, whose mother was killed in the bombing, also welcomed news of the investigation, “Baggott set himself up as judge, jury, prosecutor and chief constable. How any reasonable, intelligent human being could argue there was no investigative bias is beyond belief. The RUC, with no evidential basis, blamed the IRA.”
Family campaigner Gerard Keenan who lost both his parents described the development as “long overdue – this Chief Constable has caused deep hurt to the families by trying to rewrite history.”
Contact BIRW @ 0208 7729161 Contact PFC @ 02871 268846
Note to Editors
In February 2011 the Police Ombudsman published his report into the Mc Gurk’s Bombing. The report found that RUC failure to investigate Loyalist involvement in the attack in which 15 people died amounted to ‘investigatory bias” by RUC officers during the 1971 investigation. Hours after the report was published the Chief Constable issued two public statements in which he rejected the key findings of the Ombudsman’s report . See www.patfinucanecentre.org individual cases or www.birw.org for full background.