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Call for action comes after publication of internal Catholic Church reports that find it guilty of inaction over paedophile priests

Henry McDonald
20 Nov 2011

**I would think it has been blatantly obvious for years that the Catholic church is not capable of ‘policing’ itself. That’s a bit like letting the fox guard the chickens. And yes, I am Catholic. The current bishop of Raphoe is talking the good talk, but in reality, he is still taking care of and promoting a pervert priest in Donegal.

Amnesty International has called for an independent inquiry into clerical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland after internal Catholic Church reports found the clergy guilty of inaction over paedophile priests.

An inquiry in Derry found that allegations were not robustly challenged or adequately managed, and that priests who were moved out of parishes in the diocese continued to abuse elsewhere.

Monsignor Eamon Martin, acting as the administrator of the Derry diocese following the retirement of Bishop Dr Seamus Hegarty, acknowledged it was “disturbing” that the diocese seemed more interested in protecting the church than the children. He said the victims had been “violated, their self-esteem and self-belief battered, and their spirit crushed.”

In the neighbouring Raphoe parish just over the border in Co Donegal, a report revealed that there were 52 complaints of child abuse against 14 priests. More than 20 of the offences were committed by one priest, Fr Eugene Green. In Raphoe it was found that the practice of failing to report allegations of abuse went on for 36 years.

The current Bishop of Raphoe, Phillip Boyce, accepted that in his diocese “insufficient emphasis was placed on the needs of victims, often in the misguided attempt to protect the reputation of the Church.”

One of the main whistleblowers who brought the abuse to light in Raphoe was a Garda Síochána officer Martin Ridge who claims the church hierarchy repeatedly ignored the claims of victims.

The pattern of reports of abuse being ignored or priests suspected of abusing children being moved out of dioceses, even to other parts of the world, is replicated throughout the six reports, that include Tuam in the west of Ireland and Dromore in Northern Ireland which takes in the border region around Newry.

Reacting to the reports by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Amnesty International said the findings were “barely a glimpse into the horror of abuse suffered by children in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

Backing calls for an inquiry, Amnesty’s programme director in Northern Ireland, Patrick Corrigan, said: “Clerical abuse survivors in Northern Ireland have been in touch with Amnesty and have told us they wish to see a proper, independent public inquiry into clerical child abuse in this jurisdiction. Survivors of clerical abuse in the Republic of Ireland have seen the state institute inquiries into the dioceses of Dublin, Ferns and Cloyne and have seen the Taoiseach speak out on behalf of victims. In Northern Ireland, to date, there has been no such examination. ”

The human rights organisation also challenged the power-sharing coalition at Stormont to back demands for an independent inquiry

“The Northern Ireland Executive has an obligation to ensure a thorough investigation of child abuse within this jurisdiction, regardless of when that abuse took place and regardless of the occupation of the alleged abuser,” Corrigan said.


When it comes to tackling sectarianism, Stormont has much to learn from Scotland, says Peter Geoghegan

Belfast Telegraph
29 November 2011

Looking at the news headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland is in the grip of an outbreak of sectarianism of truly epidemic proportions. Last year, the number of religious hate-crimes in Scotland rose by 10% – with offences against Catholics and Protestants accounting for a staggering 95% of all incidents.

Meanwhile, both Celtic and Rangers have been hauled over the coals by Uefa for sectarian chanting by their supporters while the pipe-bombs posted to Celtic manager Neil Lennon are still fresh in the memory.

But the relationship between column centimetres and reality is seldom a one-to-one correspondence.

Scotland’s religious strife looks so great largely because the country’s authorities have radically shifted their approach to sectarianism in recent years.

In 2005, former First Minister Jack McConnell ruffled some feathers when he talked about “Scotland’s secret shame”. Religious hatred and bigotry was a facet of Scottish life that many people simply did not want to acknowledge.

While structural discrimination that dogged much of Scotland’s labour market had disappeared, just like the anti-Catholic riots that plagued Edinburgh in the 1930s, sectarianism was more convenient to ignore than address.

Scotland has come a long way since 2005. Earlier this year, First Minister Alex Salmond promised a “zero tolerance” approach to sectarian behaviour, while the issue was put front-of-stage during his Scottish National Party’s annual conference in Inverness.

There have been legislative changes, too. The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 included a penalty for offences “aggravated by religious prejudice”.

Right now, a controversial Bill to outlaw sectarian singing at football matches is making its way through the SNP-controlled Holyrood parliament.

Stormont politicians could learn a lot from the leadership in Edinburgh. While Scotland has, since 2006, had an effective anti-sectarian strategy, Northern Ireland has no such plan.

In spite of the requirement under the 1998 Northern Ireland Act that the Executive must encourage “good relations”, there is still no formal policy on addressing sectarianism.

That’s not to say that such a policy was never developed. A Shared Future was published by the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister in 2005, following a lengthy – and expensive – consultation process.

A Shared Future is, essentially, a blueprint for a post-sectarian society based on laudable notions of reciprocity and reconciliation, but with a refreshingly honest appraisal of the extent of the challenges facing Northern Ireland.

That A Shared Future saw the light of day at all was down not to Stormont, but to a direct rule minister, Des Browne, who championed the initial report and launched the public consultation.

But when devolution was reinstated in 2007 it was clear that that election’s big winners – Peter Robinson’s DUP and Martin McGuinness’s Sinn Fein – had little time for the strategy. A Shared Future was quietly shelved and a new policy, Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI), offered in its place.

To call Stormont’s enthusiasm for CSI muted would be generous. Progress on the policy was slow, circuitous and half-hearted.

Indeed, CSI was only put out for public consultation last year after Alliance made it a precondition for agreeing to the devolution of policing and justice.

CSI lacks substance, detail and credibility. Last year, a study carried out by the Institute for British-Irish Studies at University College Dublin and the Joseph Rowntree Trust found three main areas of concern with the policy: CSI abandons the previous strategic goal of reconciliation; it relies on a simplistic view of identity as fixed and static; and its options for reorganising the community relations infrastructure in Northern Ireland are all worse than the current system.

The critical responses to this year’s CSI consultation suggest the wider public share many of these concerns.

It took the Executive until the summer to establish an all-party working group to advise on revising the CSI strategy. To date the group has met just three times.

But why does Northern Ireland need a public policy on anti-sectarianism at all? Surely images such as that of Matt Baggott flanked by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson after the murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr show the political will is already there? Why do we need another policy document to go with it?

An effective anti-sectarianism vision for a post-conflict Northern Ireland will not be enough to end engrained division, but it would demonstrate the issue is being taken seriously at the very top.

It would have practical implications, too. Public shows of unity are commendable, but need backed up with clear strategic action to address a divided society.

Scotland has taken advantage of a changing social dispensation to tackle sectarianism in its society. Surely the time has come for the Executive to emulate it.

By Greg Harkin
November 30 2011

PRIVATE investigators hired by the ‘News Of The World’ hacked into the computer of Hugh Orde when he was chief constable of the PSNI, police believe.

The Irish Independent understands that Mr Orde was “shocked and angry” when told that he could have been the victim of computer hacking.

The allegation comes just 24 hours after the former northern secretary Peter Hain was also warned that his computer may have been hacked.

Mr Orde (53) served in the North between 2002 and 2009 and is now head of the Association of Chief Police Officers in England. A spokesman for Mr Orde declined to comment last night.

It is understood that the new allegations have been unearthed by a Metropolitan Police team working for Operation Tuleta, who are examining computer hard drives seized from at least three private detectives used by News International.

There are fears that other senior police and civil servants in the North were targeted by the ‘News Of The World’.
Wednesday November 30 2011

Tensions between Northern Ireland and the Republic could be heightened by a recent visit and action of the Irish prime minister, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has warned in the Commons.

Belfast North MP Nigel Dodds welcomed movements by the Northern Ireland Office to “draw a line under” the Finucane issue.

But, at Northern Ireland questions, he warned: “Do you agree the decision of the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny to come to Northern Ireland last week and seek to reopen this issue and launch an international campaign is deeply unhelpful to north-south relations and, in fact, invites comparisons to his attitude to neuter the Smithwick Inquiry investigations into the deaths of RUC officers?”

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said: “The review into the Finucane case is going ahead. That is the decision of this Government and we believe it is the right decision. We inherited impasse from the previous government calling for an inquiry.

“We know there are strong feelings in Dublin on this issue and we have said privately and publicly we will recognise they will state those differences publicly, but I would assure you we will not let this issue damage in any way the excellent relations we have with the government in Dublin.”

Belfast Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane was killed by loyalist paramilitaries on February 12 1989. Two public investigations concluded that there was British state collusion in the murder and Mr Paterson issued an official apology earlier this year.

It was announced last month that a planned public inquiry into the affair is to be replaced by a review instead.

30 Nov 2011
**Videos onsite

Audits of child protection practices – conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church – have been published by six dioceses.

Much attention is focused on the Diocese of Raphoe, where the board found that there were serious delays in reporting concerns to the civil authorities over a 36-year period.

The report on the Diocese of Derry said allegations were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often handled by moving priests to postings elsewhere.

List of helplines for those affected by abuse

Full reports:

Raphoe Audit | Tuam Audit | Kilmore Audit | Derry Audit | Ardagh & Clonmacnoise Audit | Dromore Audit

Key points:


. 52 allegations reported to gardaí against 14 priests
. Eight out of 14 priests out of ministry, six retired
. Four convicted of an offence against a child
. Significant errors of judgement made by successive bishops
. Too much emphasis on accused priests, not victims
. More attention should have been given to preventative actions

. 25 allegations reported to gardaí against 18 priests
. Ten of 18 priests dead, eight out of ministry
. Two priests convicted of an offence against a child
. Safeguarding children plan “did not exist in previous years”
. Past practices were “defensive and internally focused”
. Current Archbishop “showing strong leadership” in dealing with allegations

. Seven allegations reported to gardaí against seven priests
. Three out of seven priests dead, two out of ministry, two retired
. One convicted on an offence against a child
. One priest living in the diocese is known to be the subject of an allegation arising from a past ministry
. Fr Brendan Smyth response was “inadequate”
. No cases of a failure to report and address matters
. Current practices are a “consistently high standard”

. 31 allegations reported to gardaí against 23 priests
. 16 out of 23 priests dead, four out of ministry, three are retired
. No priests convicted of an offence against a child
. One priest living in the diocese is known to be the subject of an allegation arising from a past ministry
. Allegations not robustly challenged or adequately managed
. Abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who moved on

. 35 allegations of abuse against 10 priests
. Three of 10 priests dead, seven out of ministry
. No priests convicted of an offence against a child
. Not all allegations promptly referred to the statutory agencies
. Bishop McAreavey consulted appropriately to ensure safety of children remained priority

Ardagh & Clonmacnoise
. 14 allegations reported to gardaí against 13 priests
. 12 of 13 priests dead, one out of ministry
. One convicted on an offence against a child
. Two priests who reside in diocese are known to be the subject of an allegation arising from a past ministry
. Good co-operation by Bishop Colm O’Reilly
. 10 recommendations concerning training and administration

Reaction & updates:

1817 A survivor of clerical sex abuse in Raphoe has called for a State inquiry into how the diocese handled allegations against priests.

Martin Gallagher said the audit answered no questions and was a slap in the face for victims.

1815 Sinn Fein spokesperson on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on the Church and State to ensure that the highest standards of child protection are adhered to.

1734 John Heany, from ‘Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, described the findings as a “whitewash” and a “PR exercise”.

1727 Former Bishop of Derry Dr Seamus Hegarty has said he is sorry that his managment of historical allegations of abuse caused hurt to victims.

Dr Hegarty was Bishop of Raphoe from 1982 to 1994 and Bishop of Derry from 1994. He retired on health grounds earlier this month.

In a statement, he acknowleged that his “practice in the past was sometimes poor” but said he had made “big efforts to improve as time went on”.

1517 Monsignor Eamon Martin has apologised on behalf of the Diocese of Derry to the victims of clerical sex abuse.

Monsignor Martin – who has been appointed diocesan administrator following the retirement of the Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty – said today was a painful day for victims.

He said their dignity had been violated, their self-esteem and self-belief battered, and their spirit crushed.

He said nothing could take away, what he called, the awful wrong done to them.

Monsignor Martin said it was disturbing that historical practice in the diocese had been weak and uncoordinated, and that decisions had been made to protect the Church instead of children.

1341 Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O’Reilly has welcomed the review findings – but says he recognises that many people in the diocese will be upset and suffer renewed pain because of their past bad experiences.

1328 Of the 52 allegations against 14 priests in the Diocese of Raphoe – just over 20 relate to Eugene Green.

Speaking this afternoon, Bishop Boyce said it was incredible that no records of the case were in the bishop’s file – he believes that nothing went missing.

“It is hard to credit that no word was passed on to the authorities and it was probably the culture of the time that people didn’t speak to anyone.”

He said there was reference to a letter at the time of Eugene Green’s trial – but neither he nor his predecessor bishop Hegarty knew anything about that.

In relation to possible calls for a further inquiry, Bishop Boyce said that anything that is of value he would accept fully.

1321 Our goal with these reviews is to assure lay faithful and clergy, and, particularly, parents and young people that the implementation of the Safeguarding Guidelines is effective and that where it is not, we will identify it and take action,” says John Morgan, Chairman, NBSCCC.

1242 Bishop Leo O’Reilly has said he is pleased with the review findings pertaining to current child protection practice within the Diocese of Kilmore.

He acknowledged there were failings in the past, particularly in relation to Brendan Symth, which he regretted.

In relation to two priests against whom allegations were made that are still in active ministry within the diocese, the bishop said their cases had been reported to the gardaí and the HSE.

He said the gardaí found there was no basis for prosecution and the HSE decided there was no risk to children and the allegations were never substantiated.

1213 A review into the handling of historical clerical sex abuse in the Diocese of Derry has criticised the manner in which allegations were dealt with by church authorities.

The report found there had been a “real lack of awareness of the suffering caused to victims by abusers” and an ignorance of the habitual nature of child abusing.

The review found priests against whom allegations had been made were “not robustly challenged or adequately managed” and that problems were often handled by moving the priest to another parish where there was evidence that the “abusive behaviour” often continued.

The authors said there wasn’t sufficient emphasis placed on “prompt referral to the police and social services”.

Case recording was also found to be “poor and unstructured”.

Psychological and psychiatric assessments of priests were not acted on.

However, the report commends the response of the recently retired Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, for his “enthusiasm and commitment” in dealing with the National Board.

1140 The review of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise has noted the good co-operation given to it by Bishop Colm O’Reilly.

Reviewers found file keeping was very good and all documentation they required was made available.

The report found 14 allegations were made to gardaí concerning priests in the diocese since January 1975 and of those only one is alive and he is no longer in ministry.

One priest was convicted of offences against a child during the period.

There are two other retired priests against whom were allegations made currently resident in the diocese.

The report makes ten recommendations concerning training and administration, which the Board has asked the bishop to implement quickly.

The board has expressed satisfaction that the majority of these are already being advanced.

1137 The Derry Diocese report has revealed allegations were made against 23 priests since January 1975.

The report reveals that 31 allegations of abuse were reported to the gardaí and the PSNI over the same period.

Seven of the priests against whom allegations were made are still living, 16 are deceased and none of the priests in the Diocese were convicted of any offences against children.

The report found historically allegations against priests were not robustly challenged or adequately managed and problems were often handled by moving them to postings elsewhere.

It also found evidence that abusive behaviour continued to be exhibited by priests who were moved on.

The authors of the report also found that it was not clear that sufficient emphasis was placed on the prompt referral of the allegations to the police, which then led to delays in referring cases to the statutory authorities.

The authors of the report commended the recently retired Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty for his enthusiasm and commitment in dealing with the investigation.

1122 In addition to Smyth there were seven other priests in the Diocese of Kilmore who had claims of abuse made against them between January 1975 and November 2010.

All seven were reported to the gardaí and the HSE or the health boards.

Four of the alleged abusers are still alive. Only one priest has been convicted during the period of the review, according to the report.

The report states there were “no cases of a failure to report and address matters when they came to light.”

The report acknowledges that in the most recent case of abuse, laicisation had already been applied for and granted to a priest convicted of abuse.

The report makes several recommendations to Bishop Leo O’Reilly including the appointment of a lay person to the role of designated person and suggests planning a diocesan safeguarding conference.

1120 The report has found current practices in the Diocese of Kilmore are of a “consistently high standard” and the Diocese “may be viewed as a model of best practice within the Church in this critical area.”

The report praises Bishop Leo O’Reilly. Kilmore is one of the smallest dioceses in the country and has 36 parishes as well as seven religious orders within the diocese.

The only male order is that of the Norbertines Canons based at Kilnacrott Abbey where Fr Brendan Smyth, was a member.

The response to Smyth was inadequate and showed a disregard for the safety of children, according to the report.

However, none of that can be attributed to the present bishop and the report states that Smyth was a member of a religious order and not a priest attached to the diocese.

1112 The report says the commitment to safeguarding children that is evident in the Archdioceses of Tuam today “appears not to have existed in previous years”.

It says many of the cases managed by Archbishop Neary’s predecessors contained practices that were “defensive and internally focused, which would be entirely unacceptable today and showed a lack of awareness of the suffering caused by abusers”. No trace of that remained today, it says.

It says in the past there were delays in taking action in relation to priests against whom allegations were made but since his installation Archbishop Neary has shown “authority and quiet resolve” in keeping men out of the ministry where there was evidence to suggest they could be viewed as dangerous and should not have access to young people.

It said he had done this even when he had met resistance and opposition.

1110 The audit on the Archdioceses of Tuam is sharply critical of the way in which allegations of child abuse were handled in the past and says “serious harm was done to children by a few priests of the archdioceses”.

It says current Archbishop Dr Michael Neary is “showing strong leadership” and has been dealing with allegations made against priests with “a steadily serious approach and is taking appropriate action under existing guidelines”

The report says allegations of child abuse were made against 18 priests of the dioceses since 1975. Two priests were brought before the courts and convicted; ten of the 18 are now deceased – including one of those who was convicted.

The remaining eight are not in the ministry.

The report says the commitment to safeguarding children that is evident in the Archdioceses today “appears not to have existed in previous years”.

1100 The audit of 14 case files relating to the Diocese of Raphoe names only one priest, now laicised, Eugene Greene, who was jailed in 2000 for the sexual abuse of 26 victims.

The methodology employed was to examine case files comprising complaints, witness statements, respondent statements, respondent statements, notes of interviews and discussions, assessment reports, correspondence and other written material.

People with a safeguarding role within the diocese, including the Bishop and representatives from outside agencies were interviewed. The audit states it found the files to be well ordered, and consistently structured.

1057 The Bishop of the Diocese of Dromore Dr John McAreavey said he accepted all the recommendations.

Speaking at Newry Cathedral, he said many had already been implemented and the remaining recommendations would be put in place as a matter of urgency.

In total, 12 recommendations were made in the review. These include that Bishop McAreavey should consider writing to all complainants upon receipt of an allegation, offering them support and counselling.

1045 The review of how the Diocese of Raphoe handled allegations of child sexual abuse against priests has concluded that “significant errors of judgement were made by successive bishops when responding to allegations that emerged within the diocese.”

The review of case files from 1975 to 2010 states “too much emphasis was placed on the situation of the accused priest and too little on the needs of their complainants. Judgements were clouded, due to the presenting problem being for example, alcohol abuse and an inability to hear the concerns about abuse of children, through that presenting problem.”

1043 An audit of child protection practices in the Diocese of Dromore has revealed 35 allegations of abuse have been made against ten priests dating back over 30 years.

Of these priests, three are dead while the remaining seven are out of ministry.

The allegations date back to 1 January 1975. There has been no convictions of any priests in the diocese of having committed an offence against a child or a young person.

1042 Bishop of Raphoe Dr Philip Boyce has been speaking to Highland Radio this morning.

He said he was glad the audit for the Raphoe Diocese has now been published and expressed his deepest sympathies to everyone affected.

Asked about what information they contained in relation to Fr Eugene Greene, he said he came in as Bishop of the diocese in October 1995 and when he went through the files he saw no allegations against Fr Eugene Greene.

He said his predecessor Bishop Hegarty had assured him of the same thing.

He said the father of one of the boys who said he was abused had written a letter in the late 1970s but the first he had heard of this letter was 20 years later and he didn’t find any trace of it in the files.

He expressed his sincere apologies to those involved and said something should have been done about this complaint but there was no trace of it in the files.

He said this was a tragedy. To his knowledge nothing was destroyed since he came into the diocese.

He described the work of Bishop Hegarty as meticulous.

He said there was no guarantee that the letter had ever come to the Bishops office.

He said there was not an awareness of child abuse in the late 1970s and of the damage it causes to children.

1040 The audit on the Archdioceses of Tuam is sharply critical of the way in which allegations of child abuse were handled in the past.

It says “serious harm was done to children by a few priests of the archdioceses”.

However, it adds that the current Archbishop, Dr Michael Neary, is “showing strong leadership” and “is taking appropriate action under existing guidelines”.

1020 Bishop of Raphoe Dr Philip Boyce has said that during the past decades there have been very poor judgements and mistakes made in the Diocese of Raphoe and he fully accepts the recommendations contained in the review undertaken by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

In a statement, the Bishop said the review examined all case files from 1975 to 2010 to determine how allegations and concerns were dealt with.

Its purpose was also to interview key persons involved in child safeguarding, judge how cases are currently assessed, how the statutory authorities are notified and determine if there are any current risks to children.

Bishop Boyce said the people of the Diocese of Raphoe have suffered much over the last 20 years with a proportionately high number of priests with complaints of child sexual abuse made against them.

The number of allegations was also high and it is to our shame that we admit this, the Bishop said.

0700 Later this morning, audits of child protection practices, conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, will be published by six of the country’s dioceses.

The board’s audits of Raphoe, Tuam, Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Kilmore, Dromore and Derry will also be published by the respective dioceses today.

The reviews were stalled for a year by bishops’ concerns that they would breach data protection laws by handing over certain information.

The board’s head, Ian Elliot, has complained of meeting obstruction from an unidentified source while investigating Raphoe’s handling of the abuser, Fr Eugene Greene.

Retired Garda Martin Ridge has accused the diocese itself of obstructing the criminal inquiry that resulted in the jailing of Greene for abusing 26 boys.

However Bishop Boyce has rejected this, saying the gardaí were happy with the co-operation offered.

Mr Elliot has said the value of the audits depends on full and complete access to all relevant documentation and information relating to the abuse of children known to the dioceses subject, where relevant, to the terms of the agreement reached on data processing.

30 Nov 2011

Unionist councillors in Belfast have called for the Lord Mayor to publicly apologise, for failing to present an award to a 14-year-old girl, or resign.

Sinn Fein’s Niall O Donnghaile refused to present a Duke of Edinburgh award to the army cadet on Monday night.

Niall O Donnghaile said he would be happy to meet the cadet to explain his decision

The Lord Mayor said he did not present the award to avoid raising any sensitivities.

The summons, signed by all the unionists on the council, will be presented to officials on Thursday.

It has been signed by members of the DUP, Ulster Unionists, PUP and independent unionist Frank McCoubrey.

The statement reads: “This council: Is appalled that the Lord Mayor politicised the Duke of Edinburgh Awards presentation in City Hall on 28th November by refusing to present an award to a young member of the Armed Cadet Forces; affirms that the civic position of Lord Mayor is about representing and respecting everyone within this city and calls on the Lord Mayor to publicly apologise for his actions and the gross offence caused.

“Failure to do so immediately would render his position untenable and he should resign”

In a joint statement from the DUP and UUP, Aldermen Robin Newton and David Brown said that the Lord Mayor had brought his office into “disrepute by his actions”.

They said that “such petty bigotry has no place in modern society”.

On Tuesday Mr O Donnghaile said he would be happy to meet the cadet and her family to explain his decision.

He said it was “nothing personal”.

“At the last minute I was informed that one of the awards was to be presented to a representative of the Army cadet force,” Mr O Donnghaile added.

“In order to avoid any unnecessary sensitivities to either party, it was arranged for the outgoing chairman of the organisation to present some of the certificates alongside me.

“I take my responsibilities as being a mayor for all very seriously.”

30 Nov 2011

A woman who confronted a convicted IRA bomber about the death of her father said the meeting made her determined to fight for Troubles victims.

Manya Dickinson was visibly upset after confronting Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair at the Smithwick Tribunal on Tuesday.

Her father, Kenneth Graham, was a contractor who supplied building materials to the security forces.

He died in an IRA car bomb on 27 April 1990. There is no suggestion that Blair was involved in Mr Graham’s murder.

Mrs Dickinson, from Kilkeel, was 13 years old when her father was killed.

Speaking about her confrontation with Blair in Dublin, she said: “I was just asking him did he make the bomb that was planted underneath my father’s car and he just laughed. That is what we have to put up with, him laughing. It is not good enough.

“Something has to be done for victims of IRA violence, the government has to listen and do something … that man laughed in my face.”

“I had to look him in the face and see what his reaction would be.

“Whenever he laughed, I just realised that the victims’ fight has to go on.”

Ms Dickinson said Blair’s reaction was “the most horrendous thing”, but she rejected any suggestion that arranging a private meeting when he would have known who she was, might have been different.

“He would have a speech ready and lies that he would have said. This was a one-off chance to do this.

“I am left feeling even more determined that they can’t close the victims’ sector down. The Stormont government are trying to close Fair (Families Acting For Innocent Victims) down and it is one of the only places there is that supports people like me.”

Patrick Joseph Blair, also known as ‘Mooch’ Blair, has been giving evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal which is investigating allegations of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of two senior RUC officers.
Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair was giving evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal into allegations surrounding the deaths of senior RUC men, Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan

Mrs Dickinson was accompanied in Dublin by Fair leader Willie Frazer.

The group, set up up to support victims of republican violence, has been asked by the European Union to return £350,000 in peace funds.

Funding from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) has also been cut.

Mr Frazer has denied misspending cash and called the funding cut “political”.

There have been three investigations into the activities of Fair.

One carried out by the PSNI has been completed and the Public Prosecution Service has said there will be no prosecution in relation to that inquiry.

Two other probes have been carried out by the EU and OFMDFM. The latter is ongoing.

Mr Frazer said that there was no chance of the EU getting its money back.

“I would go to jail before I would pay it back,” he said.

“We have done nothing wrong. The money that we received in the first place was not sufficient to carry out the project that we had taken on.

“They have said to us a number of times that the money was not misspent.”

30 Nov 2011

A number of MLAs have gone to work at Stormont on Wednesday.

The UUP’s Mike Nesbitt, Basil McCrea, Joanne Dobson, Roy Beggs, John McCallister and David McNarry crossed the picket line

DUP MLAs Jonathan Craig and Tom Buchanan and TUV leader Jim Allister also entered Stormont.

Stephen Agnew of the Green Party stood with approximately 60 workers on the picket line.

There were some sharp exchanges between union members and some MLAs as NIPSA representatives asked the MLAs not to cross the picket line.

Only UUP and DUP members attended the education committee meeting at Stormont.

MLAs from Sinn Fein and the SDLP had previously announced that they would not cross picket lines.

Mr Nesbitt said his party supported the right to strike. He was not a member of a trade union but had been elected to resolve issues such as re-balancing the economy.

Economic recession

Mr Nesbitt urged workers to recognise the realities of the economic recession.

“We must all be aware that the reality we find ourselves in at present is one of recession and austerity,” he said.

“Unfortunately we all have to shoulder some of the burden.”

He cited the plight of Greece, Italy, Ireland and others as examples of the need to balance the books. He said no-one could sustain the borrowing of the last Government.

First Minister Peter Robinson said discussions between union leaders and government needed to happen.

“I was disappointed to hear at the weekend that union leaders were saying that it didn’t really matter what the government said – that nothing would stop the strike from taking place,” he said.

“That indicated that they were determined that they were going to have the strike come what may.

“I think that’s a mistake, they need to be sitting down with the government to resolve these matters.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness expressed his support for the strike.

“I understand fully the feelings of public sector workers angry at the imposition of a pension levy by the British government,” he said.

“I support the striking workers in the actions they have taken.”

Meanwhile, the SDLP’s John Dallat joined workers on the picket line at County Hall in Coleraine.

“These people are the salt of the earth who feel bruised and battered by a heartless government that is robbing them of their pension rights,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph
Wednesday, 30 November 2011

**Just a TAD late, Brady.

Cardinal Sean Brady has made a settlement wth a man who was abused by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth

Cardinal Sean Brady has offered to apologise in person to the victim of a notorious paedophile after he made an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland was sued by Brendan Boland, one of two teenagers he swore to secrecy in 1975 following his investigation into their allegations of abuse by Father Brendan Smyth.

The 50-year-old from Co Louth launched the case against Cardinal Brady and Smyth’s Norbertine Order 14 years ago.

The settlement was finally agreed shortly before a date for a hearing was due to be fixed at the High Court in Dublin.

Mr Justice John Quirke struck out the case.

While the settlement is not confidential, Mr Boland – who was not in court – has decided not to disclose the amount.

In a statement, the Catholic Church said it was agreed between Mr Boland and the Archdiocese of Armagh on the basis the abuse occurred in the archdiocese.

The victim was 12 when he started suffering two years of sexual abuse by Smyth in 1973.

He said that after confiding in a young priest, he was interrogated by three clerics – including a then Fr Brady – conducting an Ecclesiastical Court, and had to swear on oath that he would not talk about the interview with anyone but an authorised priest.

“My parents, who were good God-fearing people, and I were assured that Fr Brendan Smyth would not be allowed to associate with young boys and girls and that there would be no recurrence of the abuse which I and other victims had suffered,” he said.

I have set my preferences to exclude anything to do with Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site. I also uncheck the ‘like’ box. Why is this not working?

Belfast Telegraph
Wednesday, 30 November 2011

**Ohhhkaaaay…just dun use the toilets in THIS parish.

The Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce last night defended his decision to promote a priest convicted of voyeurism, writes Greg Harkin.

Fr Patrick McGarvey was appointed parish priest of Fanad, Co Donegal last month.

The elevation took place at a special Mass at St Mary’s in Fanavolty last month.

Fr McGarvey was caught by undercover police at the Foyleside shopping centre in Derry in August 2004 watching people go to the public toilets there.

Police officers had carried out an investigation after complaints from members of the public

The priest was charged with indecency. In June 2005 he pleaded guilty and was given a two-year conditional discharge.

Bishop Boyce said: “He has apologised for his actions in the past, which did not constitute child sexual abuse, and he has paid a high price for it.

“Not to appoint him parish priest now could be construed as further punishment which would be unwarranted,” he said

I had to educate myself concerning pingbacks, trackbacks and the like. I have now unchecked all of it. If you see an article you like, by all means use it and link to the original source if it is still available. It is not necessary to mention this blog unless you like getting your daily news from the North the easy way rather than having to hunt it down yourself. If I were writing about and interpreting events myself, I would feel a bit differently, but I would still prefer an actual comment that says something rather than just a pingback with your link.

Sorry for any misunderstandings.

Derry Journal
Wednesday 30 November 2011

Derry’s ‘treasures’ will be on display on TG4 on Thursday evening in a new Irish language television programme.

‘Taisce na Tuaithe’ (Treasures of the Country) visits different locations throughout the country revealing interesting stories and exploring local history. Thursday night’s episode is all about Derry and includes songs, dancing, and a look at Derry’s role in the Second World War.

The show’s presenter, Pilib MacCathmhaoil, said he has always found Derry to be a very welcoming city. “I have been going to Derry for many years and I have always got a great welcome,” he said.

“There is something unique about Derry and the Derry people that you don’t find elsewhere. I’ve always found that there is a great community spirit in Derry,” he added.

Pilib and his team came to Derry last year to film the programme and said he met a host of interesting people. “We went exploring the walls with Fearghal Mag Uiginn who told us about the local history. We also did a piece on Lundy, which was something I was aware of but didn’t much about.

“We then went down to the docks where we met an older man with excellent Irish who remembers the U-Boats being lined up along the quay at the end of the Second World War,” he explained,

• ‘Taisce na Tuaithe’ will be screened on TG4 on Thursday at 8pm.

30 Nov 2011

The restored tomb of Oscar Wilde, one Ireland’s most celebrated writers, will be unveiled later today at the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

The date was chosen to coincide with the 111th anniversary of Wilde’s death.

The project was coordinated by his grandson Merlin Holland, and supported by both the French and Irish governments.

When Oscar Wilde died on this date in 1900, he was a penniless exile, a man whose health nor reputation had recovered from being jailed in England, for homosexuality, five years earlier.

Friends of the writer, best-known for plays such as the ‘Importance of Being Earnest’, could only afford a sixth-class grave outside Paris.

Wilde was later reinterred in Père-Lachaise, the final resting place of writers, artists and composers.

His new tomb was unveiled in 1914 – an angel in flight, by sculptor Jacob Epstein. It became a magnet for tourists and admirers, who by the mid 1980s had covered the monument with lipstick kisses.

French conservationists have carefully cleaned the Art Deco tomb and encased it in glass.

Peter Robinson has called for the end of separate state-funded Protestant and Catholic schools. Michael Gove should listen

David Pavett
29 Nov 2011

If there is one area of the UK that knows a thing or two about segregated religious education it is Northern Ireland. The great majority of schools there are run by either Protestants or Catholics. Children are divided into these denominational institutions from the age of five. Given that the religious communities also tend to live in Catholic and Protestant areas the possibilities for the generation and maintenance of inter-communal misunderstanding and even violence are clear. This is not a matter of speculation but one of bitter experience.

The Democratic Unionist leader, Peter Robinson, called on his party to work for the creation of shared institutions in a 25 November speech. The extra costs of running separate institutions for Catholics and Protestants may have helped to focus minds given current constraints. However, it is clear that there is more to it than this.

It is especially important that a leading Northern Irish politician is discussing the need for more integrated institutions. It is high time for the matter of the immense potential harm of separating children into different schools on the basis of their parents’ religion to move up the political agenda. The opening of a debate in Northern Ireland contrasts with the situation in mainland Britain where our leading politicians are all committed not only to keeping our existing faith schools but also to making more of them.

In a speech on 16 October Robinson had turned his attention to education. In an address to his former council in Castlereagh, he said:

“We cannot hope to move beyond our present community divisions while our young people are educated separately … I believe that future generations will scarcely believe that such division and separation was common for so long. The reality is that our education system is a benign form of apartheid, which is fundamentally damaging to our society. Who among us would think it acceptable that a state or nation would educate its young people by the criteria of race with white schools or black schools? Yet we are prepared to operate a system which separates our children almost entirely on the basis of their religion. As a society and administration we are not mere onlookers of this; we are participants and continue to fund schools on this basis. And then we are surprised that we continue to have a divided society.”

Churches should be free to run their own schools, Robinson said, but not on the basis of state funding. Meanwhile, back in mainland UK, we have to wonder where the leading politicians are who are prepared to speak so frankly about the consequences of the state funding of faith schools. Michael Gove’s contribution is to encourage faith schools to seek academy status to avoid “meddling” by secularists. His latest initiative is to send a copy of the King James Bible, with a foreword by himself, to every state school. All our main political parties support faith schools and will accept or encourage more of them.

The defenders of faith schools say that placing children in separate religious institutions for their school years will not help to foster sectarian attitudes. We are told that faith schools organise events in which children will meet others from different faiths. This is just not serious. Nothing can replace what is learned by rubbing shoulders and getting along with others from diverse backgrounds on a daily basis.

In his book Identity and Violence, Amartya Sen warns over and over again about the dangers of encouraging people to think of themselves in terms of an overriding single identity. He says:

“The state policy of actively promoting faith schools freshly devised for Muslim, Hindu and Sikh children (in addition to pre-existing Christian ones) … is not only educationally problematic, it encourages a fragmentary perception of the demands of living in a desegregated Britain. Many of these institutions are coming up precisely at a time when religious prioritisation has been a major source of violence in the world (adding to the history of such violence in Britain itself, including Catholic-Protestant divisions in Northern Ireland) … The important goal is not some formulaic ‘parity’ in relation to old Brits with their old faith schools but what would best enhance the capability of the children to live ‘examined lives’ as they grow up in an integrated country.”

Will none of our politicians have the foresight to look at the dangers of segregated schooling? Will none of them have the courage to speak out before we go further down this path?

By Jennifer O’Leary
29 Nov 2011

A convicted IRA bomb-maker has said claims that he was involved in the 1998 Omagh bombing were made by a “fantasist”.

Patrick Joseph Blair, also known as ‘Mooch’ Blair, made the remarks in evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal.

The Dublin tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of two senior RUC officers.

Blair admitted he had been actively involved as a “volunteer” in the south Down unit of the Provisional IRA.

He was named as a suspect in the Omagh bomb atrocity by Kevin Fulton, a Newry man who claims to have been a British army agent who was undercover in the IRA.

“I had no part in any shape or form in the Omagh bombing,” Blair told the tribunal.

“Kevin Fulton is a liar and I would take a lie detector test in relation to the Omagh bomb, I would prefer if he took one as well.”

Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair was confronted at the tribunal by the daughter of a man murdered by the IRA.

Manya Dickinson was visibly upset after confronting Blair who refused to answer any questions about the bomb that killed her father.

Kenneth Graham, a Kilkeel contractor who supplied building materials to the security forces, died after a bomb exploded under his car on April 27 1990.

“That’s what we have to put up with, him laughing and knowing that,” she said.

“It’s not good enough, something has to be done for victims of IRA violence, and this is awful – that man laughed in my face.”

“He said I made the bomb; it is a fantasy on his behalf,” he said.

He also described claims of a 59-second phone call from a phone attributed to him to the Real IRA unit which planted the Omagh bomb as a “big coincidence”.

The tribunal is investigating whether there was collusion in the murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.

They were shot dead near Jonesborough, south Armagh, shortly after meeting Irish police in Dundalk Garda station.

Blair is giving evidence to the tribunal because of suggestions, made by Mr Fulton, that he had met with a Garda officer serving in Dundalk station.
15-year sentence

In 1975, a court in Northern Ireland sentenced Blair to 15 years for attempted murder. He was released in 1982 and moved to Dundalk.

On the day of the RUC officers’ murders Blair said he was in a pub and bookies and learned of the shootings later that evening.

Mary Laverty SC, for the tribunal, put it to Blair that Mr Fulton had visited his home on the evening of the murders along with an unnamed person who claimed “our friend was involved in the operation”.

“That ‘friend’ was a garda who it is alleged assisted you on occasions?” she asked.

“No garda ever assisted me, or to my knowledge anyone,” Blair replied.

He also denied that Mr Fulton was in his home that evening, describing him as a “gopher” when asked if Mr Fulton was active in the IRA.

“Kevin Fulton was unreliable, that was why he was not a volunteer,” he said.

“The Garda were not pro-republican to my knowledge.”

He also denied he was a member of the IRA unit that handed out punishment beatings or interrogated suspected informers.

When asked about “taunting” phonecalls made to RUC and army stations following IRA murders he said: “Psych ops happened on both sides.”

By Michael McHugh
Tuesday November 29 2011

A JUDGE in the trial of two men accused of murdering two soldiers will decide whether to allow controversial forensic evidence on Thursday.

Mr Justice Anthony Hart has been hearing legal arguments on the admissibility of the DNA test.

The prosecution claims the samples connect Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers to the gun attack on Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar outside their Army base in Antrim.

The defence believes the computer-based assessment of US expert Dr Mark Perlin has not been properly recognised by other scientists.

Prosecution barrister Terence Mooney QC told Antrim Crown Court: “It is admissible on the basis that it is derived from scientific evidence which is reliable, proven and advanced by an expert in the field.

“It is therefore evidence upon which the court can place confidence and give weight.”

Sappers Quinsey, 23, and Azimkar, 21, were shot dead by the Real IRA as they collected pizzas with comrades outside Massereene Army base in Antrim in March 2009.

Duffy, 44, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, and Shivers, 46, from Magherafelt, Co Derry, deny two charges of murder and the attempted murder of six others – three soldiers, two pizza delivery drivers and a security guard.

Dr Perlin’s system strongly linked the two men to the getaway car used in the attack.

He tested DNA from a seatbelt buckle, a mobile phone and a single matchstick found in or around the Vauxhall Cavalier, which was abandoned partially burnt-out on a country road a few miles from the shootings.

He said that a DNA sample found on the buckle was 5.91 trillion times more likely to be Duffy’s than someone else’s, while a sample from inside the phone was 6.01 billion times more likely to belong to Shivers than another person.

The expert also said the DNA on the matchstick was 1.1 million times more likely to be Shivers than someone else.

But the academic’s “True Allele” method of analysing mixed genetic samples and deriving a likelihood ratio is relatively new and has never been admitted as evidence in a UK or Irish court, and only on a few occasions in the United States.

Mr Mooney said: “The absence of a UK validation does not prevent the evidence of a US expert in DNA from being advanced before this court.

“The body of work that has been presented by Dr Perlin in support of his conclusion is a body of work which is recognised by the relevant scientific community.”

He added: “We submit that the method used by Dr Perlin is based on the application of well-understood and long-standing principles. The only new area in this method, as he describes it, is the engineering of those principles into a working test system.

“It is truly a working test system.”

He said it had been validated and approved in New York state and Pennsylvania and was used to identify victims who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

Defence counsel said Dr Perlin had a vested financial interest in gaining approval for his method, had failed to obtain widespread scientific acceptance and was overly secretive, but Mr Mooney said this was “misconceived and vexatious”.

“When one looks at the vast body of works that have been presented by Dr Perlin, it is quite clear that he has opened his technology to the world for its review,” he said.

“He has gone through a protracted period of evolving a stable, a secure and accurate system which is of benefit to the courts and because it is objective it takes no sides.

“It is available to the defence as much as to the prosecution. It can help absolve the innocent and convict the guilty.”

He said it had been adopted in the US, where capital punishment exists.

“I respectfully suggest that Dr Perlin has demonstrated himself to be objective, impartial, authoritative, with eminent qualifications carrying out important work which, as he has indicated to the court, is properly validated in accordance with scientific principles and has been shown to work by comparative studies,” he said.

“It therefore represents a body of science which is authoritative, which has been shown to be accurate and there is no evidence that can be produced to say that his figures are wrong.”

Barry MacDonald QC, who represents Duffy, said the court would be “reckless” to allow the evidence to stand. He added the reception from other scientists had been “lukewarm if not positively hostile” with only five to 10 laboratories using it.

“How that can be seriously described by anyone as commanding widespread acceptance in any scientific community is quite frankly beyond me,” he said.

The court will sit again on Thursday.

– Michael McHugh

The untold story of how British intelligence infiltrated and undermined the IRA

By Matthew Teague
The Atlantic
April 2006

I first met the man now called Kevin Fulton in London, on Platform 13 at Victoria Station. We almost missed each other in the crowd; he didn’t look at all like a terrorist.

He stood with his feet together, a short and round man with a kind face, fair hair, and blue eyes. He might have been an Irish grammar-school teacher, not an IRA bomber or a British spy in hiding. Both of which he was.

Fulton had agreed to meet only after an exchange of messages through an intermediary. Now, as we talked on the platform, he paced back and forth, scanning the faces of passersby. He checked the time, then checked it again. He spoke in an almost impenetrable brogue, and each time I leaned in to understand him, he leaned back, suspicious. He fidgeted with several mobile phones, one devoted to each of his lives. “I’m just cautious,” he said.

He lives in London now, but his wife remains in Northern Ireland. He rarely goes out, for fear of bumping into the wrong person, and so leads a life of utter isolation, a forty-five-year-old man with a lot on his mind.

During the next few months, Fulton and I met several times on Platform 13. Over time his jitters settled, his speech loosened, and his past tumbled out: his rise and fall in the Irish Republican Army, his deeds and misdeeds, his loyalties and betrayals. He had served as a covert foot soldier in what has come to be called the Dirty War: a cutthroat and secret British effort to infiltrate and undermine the IRA, carried out in the shadows of the infamous Troubles. “It was a lot grayer and darker,” Fulton said of the clandestine war. “Darker even than people can imagine.”

But there’s this: it worked. British spies subverted the IRA from within, leaving it in military ruin, and Irish Republicans—who want to end British rule in Northern Ireland and reunite the island—have largely shifted their weight to Sinn Féin and its peaceable, political efforts. And so the Dirty War provides a model for how to dismantle a terrorist organization. The trick is to not mind killing, and to expect dying.

This came clear to Kevin Fulton on the day his cover as an IRA man collapsed. It happened inside an IRA safe house in north Belfast, in 1994. Fulton sat facing a wall, blindfolded. Curtains shut out the pale light of winter. Bottles lay scattered on the floor, and the place stank of stale beer. An interrogator paced the room, his boots scuffing against the floor. He said, “I know what yer done, boyo.” Read the rest of this entry »

29 Nov 2011

Patrick Azimkar (left) and Mark Quinsey were murdered in March 2009

DNA evidence against two men accused of murdering two soldiers in Antrim in 2009 is reliable and proven, a prosecution barrister has said.

Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers deny murdering Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London and Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, at Massereene Army base.

The defence is seeking to have the evidence of US DNA expert Dr Mark Perlin ruled inadmissible.

However, a prosecution QC said the court could have confidence in it.

The court is hearing legal submissions before judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart rules on the admissibility of the forensic evidence.

Dr Perlin analysed items found in the getaway car and linked some of them to the two accused.

Prosecution QC Terence Mooney told the court: “It (the evidence) is admissible on the basis that it is derived from scientific evidence which is reliable, proven and advanced by an expert in the field.

“It is therefore evidence upon which the court can place confidence and give weight.”

The judge is expected to rule on the admissibility of Dr Perlin’s evidence later this week.

The two soldiers were shot dead as they collected pizzas outside the base in Antrim in March 2009, the night before they were due to leave for Afghanistan.

As well as the murder charges, Mr Duffy, 44, from Lurgan and Magherafelt man Mr Shivers, 46, both deny six charges of attempted murder and one of possession of guns and explosives.

By Vincent Kearney
29 Nov 2011

A retired senior police officer who urged the police ombudsman not to use the term collusion in a report last year, has been re-employed by the PSNI to help it deal with the past.

The former acting assistant chief constable retired earlier this year with a Patten redundancy package.

The aftermath of the Claudy bombings in July 1972

The BBC has learned that the officer wrote to Al Hutchinson over a report into the 1972 Claudy bombing.

He protested about the proposed use of the term collusion.

Nine people were killed in the attack when three IRA car bombs exploded without warning.

The report said the police had colluded with the Catholic Church to cover up the suspected role of a priest.

The letter to the ombudsman was written by Mark McDowell, who at the time was acting assistant chief constable.

He told the ombudsman the PSNI took great issue with the use of the term collusion and criticised the way in which it had been used by the previous ombudsman Nuala O’Loan – something which, he said, had undermined the credibility of RUC special branch.

Pointing out that Mr Hutchinson had himself acknowledged that there was no single accepted definition of collusion, he asked what was the point of using it at all.

He went on to say: “Surely the police ombudsman has a public responsibility” to refrain from using what he called loosely defined language which may be widely misinterpreted.

Mrs O’Loan rejected that criticism during an interview for a BBC Spotlight programme which examined the work of the Ombudsman’s office.

“That is clearly untrue. I actually didn’t for that reason develop my own definition of collusion.

“I used the definitions used by Judge (Peter) Cory and Lord Stephens, both of which set the framework very well for examination of police behaviour.

“There is a duty on the police ombudsman to examine that behaviour, because collusion is a form of corruption.”

The letter angered the former chief executive for the Police Ombudsman, who retired early after claiming there had been a lowering of the office’s independence.

Speaking in an interview for Spotlight, Sam Pollock said: “It was a very significant letter and i would have described it as outrageous.

“It was an attack on the independence of the office as well as a very inappropriate attack on the previous ombudsman.”


Mr McDowell retired from the police earlier this year with a redundancy package.

BBC Newsline has learned that he has since been re-hired to work for the PSNI’s Legacy branch.

It deals with the past – including requests from investigators working for the police ombudsman.

On Tuesday, the PSNI said the suggestion that it attempted to undermine the independence of the police ombudsman’s office was incorrect as the contents of all published reports is a matter for the ombudsman alone.

In the statement, it said the PSNI has a responsibility to challenge matters of fact and inaccuracies in any report produced by the ombudsman’s office, and pointed out that in the vast majority of cases it has agreed with recommendations made by the ombudsman.

Regarding the employment of former police officers, the PSNI said it recruits all staff in accordance with current employment legislation.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


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