The Secretary of State may have welcomed the 6th Annual Report from the Police Ombudsman, and the final one from Nuala O’Loan before Al Hutchison takes over, but I’m not sure he’s seen the press release which accompanies it.. in particular the quotes it highlights from the report [pdf file] which re-emphasises what the Ombudsman said to Henry McDonaldFrom the Ombudsman’s press statement
In the Report, Mrs O’Loan said that while the Government provided a budget for the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service and the Forensic Science Service to look at all deaths of ‘The Troubles’, no funding was allocated initially for her Office to do this work.
Mrs O’Loan said she has to negotiate each year for the necessary funds and, at present, no money has been made available for next year:
“The Historical Enquiries Team has notified me of more than 40 further cases which it needs to transfer to my Office and the details are to be found in my Annual Report.
“While I accept that in the future society may choose to develop alternative methods of dealing with the past, at the moment I am required by law to investigate these cases, yet I have not been assured I will have the money to do so.
“We have a situation where the police can investigate all the other murders of The Troubles but, unless my Office is resourced properly, there will be no investigation of allegations of police involvement in murder,” she said.
The Police Ombudsman has also expressed grave concerns about the transfer in October of this year of primacy in national security matters from the PSNI to MI5. Mrs O’Loan said that while she has a legal right of access to all material held within PSNI, she would not have such a right when MI5 take charge:
“To date MI5 have not refused me access to any material I asked of them, and this has been enormously helpful, but from October I will not have a legal right to material they hold relating to the work of police officers.
“The Criminal Cases Review Commission has a statutory right of access to MI5 files in the exercising of their duty and I do not understand why my Office cannot be granted a similar duty,” she said.
A reminder of the question previously asked.. “if our new democratic institutions aren’t strong enough to withstand the truth..”