Below is piece by myself that featured in an article by Kieran Hughes in the North Belfast News (17th September 2011).
Last Thursday (8th September 2011) some of the McGurk’s campaigners visited Stormont to hear what the Police Ombudsman, Al Hutchinson, had to say for himself in front of the Justice Committee. He was answering damning criticisms from the Criminal Justice Inspection levelled at his management of the statutory office that we have to hold the police accountable.
It beggars belief that Mr. Hutchinson has not walked straight away or been fired. The Office of the Police Ombudsman is an essential statutory body that we have as a safeguard against police primacy. The Justice Minister, Mr Ford, was wrong to accept anything less than his immediate departure.
Mr Ford wishes him to stay in the interests of continuity. The only continuity will be in bad management and a loss of public confidence.
The Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) report was a damning indictment of Al Hutchinson’s tenure as Police Ombudsman. It confirmed grave concerns that we had regarding the independence of the office when Mr Hutchinson tried to railroad our families into accepting a whitewash in July of last year. The CJI investigation asserts that the report was sanitized to redact any criticism of the RUC. No reason was given for the changes. We also learn that a senior manager of the Police Ombudsman’s Office believed that there was an understanding not to criticize Special Branch in further reports.
Even after two generations of fighting RUC intransigence and lies, we are still left with disquiet. We are particularly concerned about the negative influence that certain members of our “reformed” Police Service Northern Ireland may have had on this débacle.
As this was another attempt to bury the truth, we will be demanding to see the original report that was changed so we can judge for ourselves.
Picture above: The families were joined at Stormont by families who lost loved ones in the Ballymurphy Massacre and the Loughinisland Massacre.