Ombudsman forced to delay publication of Collusion reports

Paul Butler, RFJ Caseworker and Marian Walsh who holds a photograph of her son Damien Walsh who was murdered at the Dairy Farm Complex, Belfast

Statement from Paul Butler Caseworker for Relatives for Justice (RFJ) who has been supporting families engaging with the Police Ombudsman including the family of Damien Walsh.

“The Police Ombudsman will now not publish three reports that are concluded and were due for publication within the next few months.

“Reports on the murder of Damien Walsh at the Dairy-farm Center Twinbrook; ‘Operation Achilles’ examining a series of murders in south Belfast including the murder of five people in Sean Graham’s bookmakers on the Lower Ormeau Road; and ‘Operation Greenwich’ examining 19 murders and three attempted murders in the south Derry and north Antrim areas throughout the early to mid 1990’s will remain unpublished due to the ongoing legal challenge by the NIRPOA concerning the Ombudsman’s report into Loughinisland. All the murders were carried out by the UDA.

This week marks the anniversary of the killings and injuries at Sean Grahams on the Ormeau Road

“Collusion has been a feature and hallmark of all these killings from south Belfast to south Derry and beyond.

“The Ombudsman confirmed to families at the offices of Relatives for Justice this week that these reports will not be published given the current legal challenge.

“In a letter today to the family of Damien Walsh, murdered in March 1993 in west Belfast, the Ombudsman states that the report will now not be published.

“RFJ are working with and supporting the Walsh family including the majority of families involved in the other two major reports that will now also not be published.

“This is yet another blow to families. The Walsh family lodged their complaint 14 years ago during Nuala O’Loan’s tenure as Police Ombudsman and understandably they are frustrated and deeply disappointed.

“Roadblock after roadblock has been placed in the way of the Ombudsman from funding cuts, to the Ombudsman having to resort to judicial action against the PSNI to obtain intelligence on these and other killings, and now this latest legal challenge taken by among others a former head of Special Branch that has had the result of postponing publication of completed reports.

“This legal challenge must be viewed in the context of the withholding funding for legacy inquests, the arbitrary inserting of a ‘national security veto’ into draft legislation by the British government post the agreement of proposed legacy mechanisms, and the attempt at securing of an amnesty for British soldiers.

“Families see these actions as a concerted and strategic rearguard effort by those who have a vested interest in denying truth, accountability and ultimately justice.

“The impact that this will have on those bereaved families who are expecting the publication of report findings into the murders of their loved ones cannot be overstated.

“The onslaught by the British government, political unionism and former state combatants against families bereaved by state violence and collusion needs to end.”

Damien’s mother Marian Walsh added:

“It’s been 14 years since we first lodged Damien’s murder with Nuala O’Loan. We’d expected that the matter would have been dealt with before she left office. Given the controversy that emerged under Al Hutchinson’s reign it was clear Damien’s murder investigation was simply pushed to the side.

“I appreciate that Dr. Maguire has concluded the investigation, which in one sense we are glad, but this latest development leaves us once again in a state limbo. It simply adds to our anguish.

“The report is finished and just sitting there – we simply want access to it.

“The irony for us is that we have always firmly believed there was collusion in Damien’s murder and that involved the RUC and now the report is being withheld because the RUC are challenging collusion findings in Loughinisland.

“To me that’s not acceptable.” ENDs