N.I. Police Ombudsman’s Report on McCord Case
Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D.
The Police Ombudsman’s Report is a deeply disturbing and shocking exposé of the activities of loyalist paramilitaries and their relationship with the RUC Special Branch.
The report’s findings are damning, particularly on the utterly appalling failings of the police in the 1990s. They are a vindication of those who over many years have sought to expose these dreadful events.
The Ombudsman has found that RUC officers colluded in crimes by their failure to tackle the most serious activities of their informants - including murder. Clearly, elements of the RUC Special Branch had lost all moral compass at that time. I note that there are to be further investigations on foot of this report. Police officers implicated in these appalling acts must be held accountable for their actions.
These findings confirm what many observers feared about the conduct of RUC Special Branch. Who now could doubt that there was a need for a new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland, as called for in the Good Friday Agreement and brought about through the implementation of the Patten Report?
By failing to protect its citizens in such a way, the State failed in one of its primary duties.
At this moment, our thoughts are with the victims of these crimes, and their loved ones who have so courageously campaigned for the truth to become known.
I welcome the fact that the British Government and the Chief Constable have acknowledged these failures, have accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations, and have undertaken to implement them fully.
For our part, the Government will closely monitor all aspects of implementation and follow-up to the Ombudsman’s report.
It is also important to note the Police Ombudsman’s assessment that the systems which led to failures of this type were part of an entirely different environment to what pertains now.
Nobody can dispute that there has been a transformation in policing in Northern Ireland since these events took place. The policing and Criminal Justice systems have been thoroughly reformed. The strong accountability and oversight arrangements recommended by Patten, including the Policing Board and Police Ombudsman, are now in place and are working well.
Against this backdrop we now look to the full endorsement of policing by all sections of the community and the restoration of inclusive power-sharing Institutions, based on equality, human rights, justice and the rule of law. All political parties have responsibilities in the weeks ahead to ensure that we move forward on this basis.
While so much has changed for the better in recent years, loyalist paramilitary organisations have yet to take the decisive steps forward, including decommissioning and ending criminality. More than ever, this report shows why such action is essential.
I would encourage forward-looking leaders in the loyalist community to press on with the work of transforming these organisations. It is time to leave violence and illegality behind.
I especially want to pay tribute to the work of the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O Loan, and her staff. Yet again, her office has proven its worth with this latest report. In holding the police to account, she has been a central figure in building confidence in the new policing arrangements in Northern Ireland.