PRESS RELEASE… PRESS RELEASE… PRESS RELEASE…
Mark Thompson, Director of Relatives for Justice, has released the following statement today:
“I have this morning read the report by Barry McCaffrey on http://www.thedetail.tv/issues/22/cji-report-into-ombudsman/ombudsman-loses-staff-trust-over-withheld-intelligence
“As the Director of an organisation which provides support to victims of the conflict from across the community, affected by all actors, including those affected by state and state sponsored violence, the findings of the investigation by Dr Michael Maguire of CJI are devastating for truth recovery and the search for justice.
“The findings of fundamental compromise of independence have far reaching implications. It is clear that the hands of Special Branch that directed killings in the past are the same hands that have also reached into heart of the Police Ombudsman’s Office to prevent truth and justice.
“RFJ has long known of the problems in PONI and with the figures of Jim Coupland and Al Hutchinson in particular. Indeed many have known, including the Justice Department, and some of this report will not be a surprise.
“Of deep concern for victims of the conflict will be that we now have no independent mechanism for addressing historic cases. Former Special Branch are investigating officers in the HET and now we realise that the Ombudsman’s Office is fundamentally compromised. As it stands we have two investigating bodies incapable of delivering justice as they are controlled by those same people under scrutiny
“This is simply unacceptable – victims of our conflict must have an independent process. That their pain and anguish has been drawn out for so long is not only unacceptable it is cruel and inhuman.
“No one – especially not Al Hutchinson – should approach this as a two day media spin that will blow over. We will be making immediate representations to the European Council of Ministers on this matter. There must be accountability.
“This report must be acted on immediately. That we have devolved administration means that it need not be delayed.
“Jim Coupland and Al Hutchinson must be removed by David Ford. It is time he took responsibility.
“ An independent forum to construct a truth commission should be established immediately by both governments.”