Politicians say questions remain after PSNI failure to disclose Belfast shooting info

Politicians say questions remain after PSNI failure to disclose Belfast shooting info

Further questions remain after it emerged police in Northern Ireland failed to disclose “significant information” relating to a notorious loyalist mass shooting, politicians have said.

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire found that “significant, sensitive information” around a mass shooting at a bookmakers in south Belfast was not made available to his investigators.

Five people were killed on February 5, 1992 when members of the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) opened fire on the Sean Graham bookmakers shop on the lower Ormeau Road.

The ombudsman’s office said the material in question has opened new lines of inquiry in its investigation into the Ormeau Road shootings, as well as activities of loyalist paramilitaries in the north west between 1988 and 1994; and its investigation into the murder of teenager Damien Walsh at a coal depot in west Belfast in 1993.

Reports outlining the findings of these investigations, which had been due to be published in the coming weeks, will now be delayed.

Dr Maguire has contacted the Department of Justice to ask that the PSNI faces a review of how it discloses information.

Tommy Duffin, whose father Jack was killed in the Ormeau Road shooting, told the BBC that it was an “absolute disgrace”.

Mark Sykes, who was injured in the loyalist attack, said he felt “sick, angry and lied to”.

“To be told yesterday that there were documents withheld from him was sickening,” he said.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin has apologised on behalf of the police, and said they never sought to withhold the information from the ombudsman investigators, putting the incident down to human error.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin apologised on behalf of the police (Rebecca Black/PA)
Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin apologised on behalf of the police (Rebecca Black/PA)

He has also offered to give ombudsman investigators “full and unfettered access” to police legacy systems.

Democratic Unionist MLA Mervyn Storey welcomed the apology from police, but said a “thorough review is needed to ensure that there is no impediment to justice”.

“We need to recognise that the police worked to gather information during a terrorist campaign,” he said.

“Evidence-gathering took place in an often dangerous and difficult environment.

“That terrorist campaign resulted in brutality and the loss of many innocent lives.

“Today there are families who are still looking for answers and justice. Therefore it is important that any new information is fully investigated.

“I will be raising this matter during our discussions at a Policing Board level.

“We welcome the police apology. Further questions remain. A thorough review is needed to ensure that there is no impediment to justice.”

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said he is seeking an urgent meeting with Chief Constable George Hamilton over the matter.

“We will also be meeting the Police Ombudsman to discuss this latest failure to disclose information to his investigations and will be raising this at the Policing Board,” he said.

“The continued denial of truth and justice to victims of the conflict reaffirms the need for an end to the delays in implementing the legacy structures agreed by the two governments and the political parties at Stormont House in 2014.

“The PSNI or the British Government saying sorry is not enough. Confidence in policing is diving to its lowest level in many years. Immediate action is needed.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

PSNI made ‘significant’ number of arrests in organised crime sting operationPSNI made ‘significant’ number of arrests in organised crime sting operation

Victim of Belfast shooting named as PSNI appeal for informationVictim of Belfast shooting named as PSNI appeal for information

Man, 20s, assaulted with sledgehammers during aggravated burglary in AntrimMan, 20s, assaulted with sledgehammers during aggravated burglary in Antrim

Spit guards used by PSNI ‘not an effective means to prevent Covid-19,’ manufacturers saySpit guards used by PSNI ‘not an effective means to prevent Covid-19,’ manufacturers say

More in this Section

Covid-19: One person has died and 11 new cases confirmedCovid-19: One person has died and 11 new cases confirmed

Rare beaked whale trapped in Wicklow Harbour not expected to surviveRare beaked whale trapped in Wicklow Harbour not expected to survive

Five arrested after 'violent disorder' incidents in Co WestmeathFive arrested after 'violent disorder' incidents in Co Westmeath

UUP call for 'independent inquiry' to investigate coronavirus guideline breaches at Bobby Storey funeralUUP call for 'independent inquiry' to investigate coronavirus guideline breaches at Bobby Storey funeral


Lifestyle

All eyes are on America for Independence Day - so what happens when the country's borders reopen again? Tom Breathnach gets the lowdownAltered States: What will tourism in the US look like after lockdown?

From days by the seaside to adrenaline-filled days riding rollercoasters, Leinster offers staycationers major bang for their buck.Staycations 2020: Leinster, where Eastern promises are delivered in full

Des O'Sullivan previews the diverse items that will spark interest among collectorsAntiques: From a sword to crystal chandeliers and a dictionary

Kya deLongchamps strikes up the band for some lesser copied American mid-century talentIt's July 4 so let's strike up the band for American designs

More From The Irish Examiner