Cloud is cast over FBI offer

Posted By: March 29, 2013

AN offer of a top job with the FBI could be withdrawn from Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan in the wake of an official report, which claims the RUC had advance knowledge of the Omagh bomb, but failed to stop the massacre.

Reports last week, said Sir Ronnie intends to take up a job as assistant director with the FBI next May, after stepping down as head of the police service.

But veteran US Congressman, Ben Gilman, said: “We have taken up these reports with high-level administration officials.

“Such an appointment would be unacceptable.”

Fr Sean McManus, president of the Washington-based Irish National Caucus, said Irish Americans are dismayed that Sir Ronnie is to be offered a job with the FBI.

He told Sunday Life: “Irish-Americans will feel the same way that African-Americans would have felt had Bull Conors, head of the police in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s, been appointed to a top FBI position.

American politicians intend to query Sir Ronnie’s reported move to the FBI with President Bush, after the report by Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan said RUC Special Branch had failed to stop the Omagh bombing, in spite of having 11 days’ advance warning.

Sir Ronnie last week denied that the RUC had any information which could have prevented the atrocity.

The official report is said to be highly-critical of Special Branch, which Sir Ronnie headed for a number of years.

Sir Ronnie, (52), one of the world’s most high-profile police chiefs, is an acknowledged expert on anti-terrorism.

But the row over the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Omagh bombing, and reaction in America, has placed a cloud over his next career move.

Meanwhile, US President George Bush has given a vote of confidence to the police service, by allowing its officers to train with the FBI.

The president signed a measure lifting a ban on officers from Ulster, training with the FBI and other American police forces, and allowing exchange programmes with US law enforcement agencies.

Members of the then RUC were banned from training in America in 1999, under a law passed by Congress because of concern over the force’s human rights record.

© Belfast Telegraph Newspapers Lt