“their absence was very noticeable…”

Interesting report in the Sunday Life records the non-attendance of any DUP, UUP or SF representatives at a farewell function for the out-going Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, before Al Hutchinson takes over the role. The parties concerned deny that it was intended as a deliberate snub [Hmmm.. – Ed]. From the article

Chief Constable Hugh Orde, Security Minister Paul Goggins and Policing Board chairman Des Rea all spoke at last week’s function in Mrs O’Loan’s honour. Alliance Party leader David Ford, SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood and North Antrim MLA Mr O’Loan were the main political representatives. A spokesman for the DUP said of the party’s absence: “We are inundated with requests for functions like this and we can’t attend all of them.” A UUP spokesman told Sunday Life: “There were diary commitments that prevented our representatives on the Policing Board being represented.” And Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey said: “There was no question of any snub or slight by my party.”

, , ,

  • snakebrain

    “A spokesman for the DUP said of the party’s absence: “We are inundated with requests for functions like this and we can’t attend all of them.” ”

    Perhaps they were too busy popping the champagne corks round their place..

  • joeCanuck

    If you can piss off almost everyone there you gotta be doing something right.

  • Ulster’s my homeland, not Ireland

    The only reason IRA/Sinn Fein failed to attend is because they thoight it would be better to be seen as equals to the DUP and the UUP. They didn’t see this as an opportunity to gain some Republican ground so they ‘EQUALLED’ themselves with the trend-setters, in the hope that their murdering, limb-tearing, life-destroying and gut-wrenching terrorist past can eventually be appeased by those they brutally murdered, so they can dictate their psychopathic 32 county socialist republic on society.

  • oh yeah

    …so said lofty lynch…lol

  • harry

    Ulster’s my homeland, not Ireland

    i am a bit confused about your name here.

    ulster is your homeland? is that all of ulster or just the six counties in the north east portion of ulster.

    or is the nine counties of ulster your homeland?
    and if is the case, where, according to you, does the island of ireland start.

    geography was never my strong point.

  • Jimmy Sands

    If it’s true that a man is known by his enemies, then the Chuckle Brothers administration can have paid her no finer compliment on her departure.

  • Nevin

    “Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    What has been the total cost of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland since its establishment. [HL5232]

    Lord Rooker: The total expenditure incurred by the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland since its establishment on 6 November 2000 until 31 March 2007 is £45,764,391.” HoL 9 Oct 2007

    An expensive whingefest?

  • harry

    well if the cops were more honest, less interested in hiding their organic links with loyalist killer gangs, perhaps there would be less need for the police ombudsman.

    the whole O Loan ombudsman experience has shown that the RUC was rotten to the core, and that the New improved (sf approved) PSNI are not one step better

  • Nevin

    “Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    Whether any members of staff in the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland have been (a) dismissed, or (b) suspended from duty or had their contracts curtailed since the office was established; and, if so, how many in each year. [HL5235]

    8 Oct 2007 : Column WA6

    Lord Rooker: The Police Ombudsman has advised that one member of staff is currently suspended from duty and five members of staff have been dismissed. This is broken down as follows:

    2001—One member of staff dismissed;

    2003—Two members of staff dismissed;

    2006—One member of staff dismissed; and

    2007—One member of staff dismissed.”

    “Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    What has been the total number of criminal convictions of police officers in Northern Ireland since the establishment of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; and what has been the offence and resultant punishment relating to each conviction. [HL5233]

    8 Oct 2007 : Column WA5

    Lord Rooker: The PSNI has advised that 227 police officers have been convicted of criminal offences since the establishment of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland until 31 March 2007.

    The information relating to the offence and punishment for each of these offences could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.”

  • snakebrain

    “An expensive whingefest?”

    Only if you think an unregulated, unaccountable police force is a good thing.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “An expensive whingefest?”

    On the contrary, perhaps the best £45m that HMG has ever spent in the benighted six.

    Nuala O’Loan has just completed eight years of the finest public service we’ve ever had, or probably ever will have. She has proven herself to be a giant.

    The credibility of the Ombudsman’s office has been well and truly established, and it has been established not by politicking and backroom deals, but by the diligent, thorough and hugely courageous work of its first incumbent.

    Hutchison’s biggest responsibility will be to ensure that when he hands over the reins, that credibility has been maintained – that’ll require him to equal O’Loan’s outstanding performance. I wish him well.

  • feismother

    She once was the guest speaker at a school prizegiving I attended. She sometimes seem a bit severe on television but she’s a very warm and open person in the flesh. During the cup of tea afterwards she made a point of circulating and speaking to as many people as possible, not something they all do.

    A very brave woman and I wish her well in the future.

  • Nevin

    Here’s a cheapo whingefest, Snakebrain; just leave policing to the local godfathers.

    Funnily enough, I’ve pointed out – at no charge – that part of the policing process isn’t held accountable ie those policing day-to-day and policy decisions that are ‘facilitated’ by the BIIC Joint Secretariat, an intergovernmental body.

    This ‘behind the scenes’ arrangement has been in place for over twenty years and has been used by, inter alia, the SDLP. You might think it strange that the spouse of a long term member of the SDLP didn’t highlight this discrepancy, this ‘collusion’ …

  • Nevin

    PO mission: “.. to inform and improve the policy and practice of policing”

    Billy, up on the north coast, I think we had much better community policing forty years ago. [see cheapo link]

  • Pete Baker

    Nevin

    You appear to be confusing the roles of the various mechanisms of accountability – as well as who the various elements of the criminal justice system are accountable to.

    If you choose to quote from here

    best to give the full quote

    “To analyse and research the outcomes of complaints so as to inform and improve the policy and practice of policing”

    But you really should be quoting from here – “What does the Police Ombudsman do?”

    “We provide an independent, impartial police complaints system for the people and police under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 and 2000.”

  • Nevin

    Pete, you seem to be struggling with the new supremo’s name; it’s Al Hutchinson 🙂

  • snakebrain

    I’m sorry Nevin, but I’ve no idea what that link has to do with the PO?

  • BonarLaw

    snakebrain

    “Only if you think an unregulated, unaccountable police force is a good thing.”

    Ever heard of the Police & Criminal Evidence Order? Been regulating the police since 1989. Ever heard of the criminal justice system? The police have been accountable to it since, oh, forever.

    My experience of the ombudsmans’ office is that it is used by scumbag crims to get some leverage on the police when they’ve had their collars felt- the old I’ll drop my complaint if you drop your case routine. And it works.

    £45 mill well spent I don’t think.

  • Pete Baker

    Corrected, Nevin.

    It’s a mis-spelling I’ve been making for some time.

    snakebrain

    Nothing it would seem.

  • snakebrain

    Pete

    Glad you agree. Was starting to think I’d missed something blindingly obvious….

  • snakebrain

    “Ever heard of the Police & Criminal Evidence Order? Been regulating the police since 1989. Ever heard of the criminal justice system? The police have been accountable to it since, oh, forever.”

    Self-regulation you mean?

    It seemed to work a blinder in Omagh.

  • Pete Baker

    BonarLaw

    Opposition to the Office itself is, at least, an arguable position in principle.

    But the political parties involved seem to be more concerned about excusing their non-attendance at the function.

  • Granni Trixie

    I attended the farewell event,chatted with many and not a single person brought up the topic of the absense of politicians. Sounds like a made up story to me. May I also add that I admire Nuala OLoane …she will be a hard act of follow.

  • Pete Baker

    Granni Trixie

    “Sounds like a made up story to me.”

    Apart, that is, from the statements from those political parties explaining why they didn’t attend.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with everything Billy Pilgrim said. O’Loan has set the standard and shown how it should be done.

    BonarLaw:

    “Only if you think an unregulated, unaccountable police force is a good thing.”

    Ever heard of the Police & Criminal Evidence Order? Been regulating the police since 1989. Ever heard of the criminal justice system? The police have been accountable to it since, oh, forever.

    How many times were RUC officers prosecuted under this legislation ?

    I remember in the 1990s there were cases where hundreds of complaints would be lodged against the RUC every year. They were investigated by a complaints office (part of the RUC, IIRC) but there wasn’t a single prosecution. Were they all innocent ? Clearly the existing legislation was not working.

    If you look at the profile of complaints made to the Police Ombudsman, the vast majority are unsubstantiated or ill-founded, or closed because the complainant would not co-operate. It looks like a total of approximately 12% of them are upheld. This is not the profile of an organization wishing to trip up the police.

    My experience of the ombudsmans’ office is that it is used by scumbag crims to get some leverage on the police when they’ve had their collars felt- the old I’ll drop my complaint if you drop your case routine. And it works.

    The Ombudsman says that 7.4% of complaints are closed after they are dropped, so this sounds like a relatively rare occurrence. I’m more concerned about the implication of what you are saying, which is that police are concerned about possible misconduct coming under the spotlight to the extent that suspect criminals are allowed to escape justice. This might be less of a problem if police discharged their duties correctly.

    I’ll stand corrected on this, but I believe there are cases where courts will throw out criminal cases against criminals who are almost certainly guilty if the police investigation leading to the court case was conducted in an illegal manner ? Who do we blame for this – the police or the courts ? Obviously it’s the police.

  • interested

    Does Declan O’Loan’s presence really count as a representative of the SDLP?

    Surely having your husband come along to the farewell dinner would be normal anyway. Or does it just mean that his meal was charged down to the Stoops?

  • Damian O´Loan

    Given the SDLP´s contribution to the establishment of the office of the Police Ombudsman, I find it difficult to understand why Mark Durkan did not attend. Let´s not forget that Alex Attwood is no longer the party policing, or human rights, spokesperson.

    As for the rest, I re-submit my point on SF “rhetoric” on human rights. And, objectively, she has more integrity, and intelligence, than the rest of these clowns put together.

    Today is the end of the line for victims of the troubles. For the disappeared. For victims of whichever collusion. Let the re-writing of history begin…

  • Hogan from County Tyrone

    Not withstanding Damian’s obvious bias above Mrs O’Loan was an outstanding appointment, in the most difficult of circumstances and withstood horrendus amounts of abuse and backstabbing.

    BTW did Ronnie ‘Head of Special Branch’ Flanagan ever actually publically commit suicide?

    Not often that Newton Emerson ever complements a quango but he was glowing in his praise on saturday in the irish news.

    The big question in all of this is will Hutchison have the balls to stand up to the branch and the NIO like Nuala?

    Seems like the goalposts are already shifting with his paymasters ‘hoping he will focus on policing the present’ etc etc.

    You have to hand it to these people, they really have very little tact. Let him get into office 12 months before you start manipulating him for f*ck sake!

  • Nevin

    Pete, if we needed an independent impartial PO they should have appointed someone with no links to those involved in ‘collusion’.

    My partial quote about the mission of the PO emphasises the outcome; I could have done it differently.

    My reference to cheapo whingefest was a bit flippant but the PO doesn’t have to await complaints. One of the main complaints relates to ‘failure in duty’ yet the PO remained silent when the police were directed not to ruffle paramilitary feathers et al, a political decision with a ‘failure in duty’ outcome.

    My reference illustrates this ‘failure in duty’ and challenges local politicians to protect the people rather than promote the interests of developers.

    The PO also seems to have remained silent on the matter of apparent immunity given to parapoliticians as well as the ‘failure in duty’ relating to organised crime eg fuel fraud. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has compiled a report so there has been no excuse for inactivity.

    The Policing Board has also been very lax.

  • ulsterfan

    Hogan

    Ronnie Flanagan continues to enjoy good health and long may it last as he is the front runner to head the London Met.

  • Nevin

    This wasn’t the only reception attended by Sir Desmond last week. Were there any noticeable absentees?

  • gareth mccord

    O’loan had no chance to do her job with effective justice and thorough investigations because of our crooked politicians and police force working together to hamper the 100% effort she gave. O’loan can hold her head high knowing she was not bought or bullied into a corner for her own gain.
    Those who thwarted and mocked her efforts to get the truth should hang their heads as they did not prevent O’loan doing her job, all they done was stop innocent families getting the truth and justice they all deserve. What is the most damning aspect of O’loans time is that it has highlighted to our country and the world how corrupt our politicians police and government are when they are asked to co-operate into murder inqueries!!
    But as i have said time and time again “who cares”. Take a look at the people who O’loan said did not help or rubbished O’loans findings without any respect, for her evidence or the families bereaved. Look at the man who ran and controlled the murderous special branch(RONNIE FLANAGAN)he got rewarded and look at our politicians who are now running our country??
    But we are to blame because we let them away with MURDER!!
    I bet the new ombudsman will be more in line with government policy and do his job with all sorts of strings attached and not like O’loan who walks away with her head held high.

  • Billy

    Ulsterfan

    Flanagan “is the front runner to head the London Met”

    He is not the front runner and, according to speculation, he is not being considered on a permanent basis.

    Normally, the retirement date of the commissioner is known at least 6 months in advance. This obviously allows plenty of time for his successor to be lined up.

    The current situation is obviously different as Ian Blair may or may not lose his job in the next 2 – 3 weeks.

    Any speculation I have seen states that, if things are a bit rushed, Flanagan may take the role for approx 3 months simply to allow a proper recruitment process for the permanent role to take place.

    Frankly, I would be surprised if he was appointed at all. It is vital that the next Commissioner
    has public confidence and respect.

    With Flanagan’s history, there would immediately be a lot of publicity regarding many of the controversial events that involved the RUC/PSNI during his time as Chief Constable.

    I would think that, if Ian Blair is forced out, the last thing the govt needs is a Commissioner who brings a lot of controversial baggage with him from day 1.

  • ulsterfan

    Billy

    Lets wait and see.
    Even if his appointment is only for 3 or 6 months he will still be in charge of the Met.

  • snakebrain

    Nevin

    You’re producing a lot of factoids and not a lot of context, and betraying the lack of depth in your knowledge in the process.

  • old boy

    Good bye, Good bye. Good bye.

    By the way did not the bold nulas son get done for `sectarian disorderly behaviour` a few years ago. Something about yelling sectarian abuse at people in Ballymena. Like mother like son.

  • Nevin

    Snakebrain, perhaps your lack of knowledge about policing is letting you down.

    I’m assuming that most people now know about the ‘not ruffling paramilitary feathers without political clearance strategy’ and about intergovernmental day-to-day and policy decisions which are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny ie that are not accountable.

    I’ve yet to hear the Police Ombudsman or the Policing Board express opinions on these ‘difficulties’ in policing.

    You’d think they’d have offered some protection to police officers who were being blamed or had to carry the can for decisions they had to implement but which were taken by others.

    So long as the PO and the PB remain silent, the public are likely to complain to and about the wrong people.

    As I said on the blog, I think we had a much better community police service in Bushmills forty years ago than we do now. I’m not hopeful that the PO, the PB and the politicians will provide a service that’s fit for purpose. I’m alarmed when I hear accounts of supposed pillars of the community seeking ‘justice’ through the paramilitary ‘civic police’ allegedly because the official agencies are a ‘waste of space’, too busy interacting with one another.

  • snakebrain

    Nevin

    Like so many of your posts, I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

    If you’d care to produce some specifics?

  • lib2016

    A decent woman who did more to get credible policing here than one would ever have thought possible. She’s a huge loss.

  • Nevin

    Snakebrain, I’ve given you the broad details. My information has come from politicians (eg SDLP), businessmen(eg local) and London, Dublin and Belfast civil servants. It would be difficult to give you specific information without revealing my sources.

    “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

    Sadly, our academics and investigative journalists haven’t taken the trouble to research all aspects of policing here.

    Dick Spring briefly lifted the curtain in 1996 to show how the British government rubber-stamped a proposal from Dublin on rerouteing of parades; the public was told that the decision was taken by the then RUC Chief Constable whereas he was merely asked for his advice. I’ll let you imagine for yourself the numerous similar decisions that will have been made since 1985 when Dublin was given an ‘advisory’ role.

  • lib2016

    Everybody knows that the South has had input into decisions on NI since 1985. How else could the transfer of power to allow British withdrawal ever have started?

    We are way past that stage now with the troops largely gone and ultimate responsibility for peacekeeping in most of NI lying in nationalist hands.

  • Nevin

    lib2016, some folks appear to be of the opinion that the Dublin input is merely advisory, that Maryfield was banished into outer darkness!!

    I don’t think Dublin is pressing for British withdrawal. After all, London might then cut and run and then where would we be?

  • Richie

    Which would you prefer the politically motivated trial (also by TV) a la Rodney King in LA or the formerly untouchable police force being accountable for their actions?

  • lib2016

    “…London might then cut and run and then where would we be?”

    London has already withdrawn the troops from most of NI. The PSNI are firmly under the control of British and Irish politicans and the ever decreasing unionist areas are being supervised by British Intelligence services.

    I agree with you that Britain can only continue it’s departure while there is some sort of stability here. However there seems to be no evidence that our current stability is threatened, certainly not by the loyalist paramilitaries/drug gangs.

  • barnshee

    “Not withstanding Damian’s obvious bias above Mrs O’Loan was an outstanding appointment, in the most difficult of circumstances and withstood horrendus amounts of abuse and backstabbing. ”

    Whatever the ladies attributes (and I must say they appear well hidden the expression “singlarly unprepossessing” same almosr made for her) some of the reports were intellectually shallow and tendetious.

    The classic case is the report on Omagh. Vague and unspecific “evidence ” was written up as fact

    In no case did the “evidence” provide the essential facts (as any fule kno) of

    WHO?
    WHAT?
    WHEN?
    WHERE?

    Some or all of these comonents are absent from the “report” and this paragon had the nerve to sign it.

    To The dustbin of history ASAP please

  • snakebrain

    The Police Ombudsman is satisfied that:
    • an anonymous call was made to police on 4 August 1998 which
    stated that an “unspecified attack would be made on police in
    Omagh on 15 August 1998”;
    • three individuals, ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘F’ were named during the
    telephone call, and a fourth ‘E’ was referred to by a nickname.
    Two addresses were given;
    • the caller stated that weapons (AK47s and rocket launchers) were
    to be brought in on a given date;
    • the caller stated that the weapons would be moved from a given
    address to an unknown address 2-3 miles from Omagh;
    • the caller stated that they would be used in an attack on police in
    Omagh on 15 August 1998;
    • the anonymous caller was encouraged to telephone again the next
    day. He did not do so;
    • the police officer who received the telephone call informed Special
    Branch as rapidly as possible, indicating that this was a serious
    threat;
    • some assessment and very limited action was taken on the
    anonymous information in the days immediately after its receipt by
    the RUC;
    • Special Branch dismissed the call as a “fall out between
    smugglers”. They did, however, arrange to be present should the
    caller telephone the following day. No second telephone call was
    received;
    • Special Branch did not identify available intelligence held in
    respect of ‘D’ which indicated a link with dissident Republicans.
    They did not identify a possible identity for ‘E’ which could have
    shown strong connections and involvement with Republican
    paramilitaries;
    • the SDC Omagh was not informed about the telephone call of 4
    August 1998 until 15 August 2000;
    • Force Order 99/91 requires that the SDC must be informed when a
    general threat is received so that appropriate action can be taken.
    This was not done.
    • a warning should have been given to the SDC Omagh in relation to
    the anonymous telephone call of 4 August 1998. Any action
    thereafter should have been determined by that officer in the light
    of intelligence advice from Special Branch;
    • Had the reaction to such a warning been to establish Vehicle Check
    Points, the bombers may have been deterred. The SDC Omagh has
    informed the Police Ombudsman’s Investigators that he would not
    have set up Vehicle Check Points. He would have taken alternative
    action.
    • the intelligence sheet in respect of the information received on 4
    August 1998 was, at some point, marked “intelligence does not
    refer to Omagh”;
    • no consideration had been given to any role which ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, or
    ‘F’ may have had in relation to the Omagh Bomb prior to 3
    September 2001. They have not been investigated;
    • ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’, and all the information provided during the
    anonymous telephone call, should have been investigated by the
    Omagh Bomb Investigation Team;
    • there has been no investigation in relation to the handling by
    Special Branch of the anonymous call as recommended by the
    Reviewing Officer in the Omagh Bomb Review Report;
    • although the telephone call of 4 August 1998 was anonymous, it
    was not a brief telephone call with limited information. The caller
    provided considerable detail and was engaged in conversation for
    at least ten minutes.
    6.6 The Police Ombudsman is firmly of the view that this significant
    information was not handled correctly. It is not possible to say what
    impact other action between 4 August 1998 and 15 August 1998 would
    have had, or whether action other than that taken by Special Branch
    could have prevented the Omagh Bomb.

  • Nevin

    Snakebrain, perhaps we ought to have had an EU based investigation as there were two jurisdictions involved.

    The PO investigation may have been too narrowly focussed. Jack Holland has claimed that MI5/BOX was essentially in charge of intelligence here post-1994, not SB. Apparently Martin Mansergh was in conversation with RIRA in advance of the Omagh bombing so there may have been a UK-Ireland ‘understanding’ which inhibited the actions of police on both sides of the border.

  • snakebrain

    Nevin

    That was really just in response to barnshee.

    Who, What, When and Where, so to speak…

  • Nevin

    Snakebrain, it certainly demonstrates the weakness of drawing conclusions without considering the inputs of all the key players.