[Police Ombudsman]: Biggest regret the suspension of legacy reports

Posted By: July 15, 2019

Connla Young. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, July 15, 2019

Dr.  Michael Maguire has said his biggest regret while serving as Police Ombudsman was having to suspend the publication of three key reports.

The decision was taken earlier this year after it emerged that the PSNI had failed to disclose “significant” information on police computers to his office.

The stalled reports include Operation Achille, relating to the murders of five innocent Catholic men by the UDA at Sean Graham’s Bookmakers on Belfast’s Ormeau Road in February 1992.

The results of a second investigation, Operation Greenwich, which relates to 20 murders and attempted murders across several counties between 1988 and 1994, has also been put on hold.

This report includes details about the infamous 1993 “trick or treat” murders of eight people in the Rising Sun Bar at Greysteel, Co Derry.

Mr. Maguire has also said the results of a probe over the murder of Damien Walsh (17) in west Belfast in March 1993 has been delayed.

The ombudsman, who leaves office this week, said not being in a position to publish is a source of regret.

“The fact that I have not been able to publish those reports is probably my greatest regret in the office because I had said to families last year that I was going to do my best to publish them and it was likely that was going to be the case,” he said.

“So I had to go back to them and say ‘look this isn’t going to happen’ – well the impact on them is well publicized.”

At the time Dr. Maguire said the new information relates to “sensitive material, intelligence-led material and includes information (on) covert policing”.

It is understood it also relates to a haul of loyalist weapons smuggled into the north in the late 1980s.

“They were major pieces of work. You are talking substantive reports that were nearly ready to go,” he said.

“Had that access issue not have happened I would have published them.”

The ombudsman said he intends to brief his replacement, Marie Anderson, “on what work needs to be done to them”.

“The information which hadn’t been given to us opened up new lines of inquiry and that’s what’s being undertaken at the minute,” he said.