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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Loughinisland ruling ignites legal tussle

Posted by Jim on December 31, 2017

Unionists are seeking to quash findings of collusion between the RUC
police and unionist paramilitaries in up to six Police Ombudsman reports
following a surprise court judgment before Christmas.

A judge claimed that Ombudsman Michael Maguire went beyond his statutory
powers in reaching conclusions about collusion on the Loughinisland
massacre.

Two retired RUC men had challenged a report last June over the 1994
murder of six people at the Heights Bar by the paramilitary UVF in which
the ombudsman concluded that “collusion was a significant feature”.

However, Mr Justice McCloskey ruled that the RUC men were subjected to
“destructive and withering condemnations” in the report without due
process.

The ruling came as a blow to the victims of the massacre.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was murdered in the Heights Bar, said
that last Christmas was the first where they felt that “the truth had
been set free and allowed to breath”.

“This judgment, which has been delivered four days prior to Christmas
Day, has devastated us all,” she said. “We feel that the truth has again
been suffocated. We will study this judgment over Christmas and renew
our efforts to defend the inconvenient truth, in the New Year”

Niall Murphy, lawyer for the families of those bereaved, said the case
had been premised entirely on procedural grounds. He noted that the two
RUC men had not challenged a single fact contained in the Police
Ombudsman’s report.

“The facts therefore remain as facts,” he said, and pointed to the
weight of evidence to support the allegations of collusion.

DUP MP Ian Paisley called on the British government to “move to set
false accusations aside” in six reports by the Ombusdman’s office./

Among the reports is the 2007 Operation Ballast findings by Nuala O’Loan
into the activities of the north Belfast UVF and the killing of Raymond
McCord junior.

The former ombudsman spent three and a half years investigating the 1997
murder of the 22-year-old and a series of related killings and concluded
there was collusion. Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologised
to the family of Mr McCord.

Raymond McCord senior said Ian Paisley’s response does not take into
account that the findings were accepted by the British government.

“All the evidence of collusion in my son’s case is there, it has been
well documented, there is no other name for it other than collusion and
instead of seeking justice for victims, Ian Paisley is seeking to
overturn important rulings and investigations.”

Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly defended Dr Maguire, saying his
work “is crucial to current policing and indeed in legacy cases.”

He said the Loughinisland judgment must be appealed “as it has possibly
catastrophic implications for the setting up of the investigative
process of the Historic Investigations Unit”.

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