Police Ombudsman gets another case from the past..

According to the BBC report a spokesman for the Police Ombudsman has confirmed that “Nuala O’Loan had just begun to look at the files” relating to the killing of three unarmed IRA men at a RUC checkpoint in 1982 and is to “decide whether an investigation is needed, during a process which could take several months” – by which time Al Hutchison will probably have taken over. The House of Lords ruled against an inquiry in March 2004. But, again according to the report, “The Council of Europe has now asked the government to get the police ombudsman’s office to consider the case.” That’s despite the Ombudsman’s latest annual report pointing to a lack of funding for the more than 40 cases already referred to her Office by the Historical Enquiries Team and the absence of guaranteed future access to MI5 files.. not to mention the ongoing consultation by the Eames/Bradley group on dealing with the past. Adds Guardian report here
From the Guardian

The government has referred the issue back to Mrs O’Loan. It has told the Council of Europe that the McKerr case “is now a matter for the police ombudsman who is responsible for investigating deaths as a result of actions of police officers. She will identify possible further evidentiary opportunities and will look into the original police investigation … the ombudsman has given an assurance to expedite the case as best she can”. There is no time limit on inquiries into the past.

Any reinvestigation would be complex because three police officers were acquitted of the killings more than 20 years ago. But at her office in Belfast, Mrs O’Loan confirmed the files were now with her. “The government has asked us to look at McKerr. It’s quite complex whether we have the legal power to investigate or not. Police officers were charged with murder and acquitted.

“The law says you can’t reinvestigate if there’s been a previous hearing. But it may be there are other issues that need to be investigated.”

Mrs O’Loan is not yet sure whether she will have the resources or legal authority to do so. But she recognises that the inquiry might finally put to rest one of the most poisonous controversies of the Troubles.

Update Interesting comments from the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson, as noted in the Irish Times breaking news report

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the new inquiries had the potential to cost a huge amount of taxpayers’ money. “There is no benefit to the community in Northern Ireland in doing this,” he said. “The Ombudsman’s fixation with past cases is damaging the reputation of her office and is undermining the prospect of moving Northern Ireland towards a better future.”

To which I can only point back to the link noted in the original post – “if our new democratic institutions aren’t strong enough to withstand the truth..”

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