Ombudsman Report - A Damning Indictment

20 January 2004

SINN FEIN'S Martin McGuinness has said that the report by the Police Ombudsman into the investigation of the murder of Sean Brown by loyalists was a 'damning indictment' of the policy of collusion and cover up.

And Paul O'Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre said that the report raised questions about other murder investigations.

Yesterday Mrs. Nuala O'Loan, the Police Ombudsman, issued a scathing report into the police investigation into the death of Sean Brown, a leading member of the GAA who was murdered by loyalists in 1997.

She described the investigation as 'inadequate' and added that the investigation had not been "efficiently and property carried out" and that "no earnest effort was made to identify those who had carried out the murder".

Commenting on the Police Ombudsman Investigation, Martin McGuinness said that the report was 'a damning indictment of collusion and cover-up'.

He went on to question the current role of former RUC Chief Ronnie Flanagan as a Policing Inspector given the content of today's report.

Mr. McGuinness said:

"I have always held the belief that the murder of Sean Brown ten days after the 1997 Westminster election was a direct response by the unionist paramilitaries to the DUP MP Willie McCrea losing his seat.

"This report by the Police Ombudsman is a damning indictment of the policy of collusion and cover up. Files missing from a number of barracks, no effort to apprehend the killers, the family treated with contempt and the former RUC and PSNI Chief Ronnie Flanagan ignoring a request from the Coroner John Leckey for an outside investigation."

He continued:

"It is my belief that serious questions remain over the current position of Ronnie Flanagan as a policing inspector given the detail contained in this report and other similar probes.

"There is also now an onus on the current PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde to state publicly if the individuals involved in the original investigation are still members of his force and to explain how files went missing from barracks where only his officers had access to them."

Martin McGuinness added:

"I would like to pay tribute to Sean Brown's family who refused to accept the lies and the half truths. They demanded to know the truth and they have pursued this matter relentlessly over the past six years.

"It is my hope that this Report can act as a catalyst to allow the family of Sean Brown to finally discover the truth around his murder."

Paul O'Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre said that the report appeared to show that the police had not learned any lessons.

He said:

"Even before Nuala O'Loan held her press conference the Chief Constable of the PSNI issued a statement in which he referred to the lack of co-operation received from the local community.

"He doesn't refer to the disappearance of a vital document three weeks after a complaint was received. He doesn't refer to the disappearance of the occurrence book from Bellaghy police station.

"He doesn't refer to the fact that the police did not interview a vital witness who saw a car hours before the killing.

"He does not refer to the fact that Special branch kept 17 pieces of intelligence back from inquiry six of which were of crucial importance.

"He does not refer to the fact that the killers appeared to feel able to drive past all the surveillance equipment at Toome police station without fear."

Mr. O'Connor added:

"The Chief Constable refers to the inadequate investigation and apologises for the stress this wil have caused the Brown family but this statement will have added to the stress of the family considerably.

"But it has also strengthened their resolve to have an independent investigation held into this case.

"The Brown family are adamant that the PSNI must not be involved in any reinvestigation and they have made it clear that if the PSNI are involved they will take legal steps to ensure that this does not happen.'