Northern Ireland news

Mother of teenager murdered by loyalists rejects PSNI apology over Police Ombudsman information

Marian Walsh, the mother of Damien Walsh (17) shot dead by the UFF in Twinbrook, west Belfast on March 25 1993. Picture by Mal McCann 
Rebecca Black, Press Association

The mother of a teenager murdered by loyalists in a case impacted by information which the PSNI failed to release to the Police Ombudsman said she does not accept an apology from the Deputy Chief Constable over the matter.

Michael Maguire found that "significant, sensitive information" around a notorious loyalist mass shooting at the Sean Graham bookmakers on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast was not made available to his investigators.

The material also sheds new light on investigations into a number of other murders, including the killing of 17-year-old Damien Walsh by UFF gunmen on March 25 1993 as he worked at a coal and fuel depot.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin apologised to the families impacted by the information.

But Mr Walsh's mother Marian told the Press Association that she does not accept his apology.

Read More: 'Questions remain' after PSNI fail to disclose loyalist shootings info to Police Ombudsman

The case of her son's murder is the longest running on the Police Ombudsman's books, ongoing since 2004 when Mrs Walsh first approached the watchdog.

It was referred to the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) in 2007 when it was first set up.

The HET found the British Army had been watching the shopping centre because it had been frequented by the IRA and they had information that bomb-making material was being stored there. The HET report found that Mr Walsh had no paramilitary involvement and had not been the intended target of the Loyalist gunmen.

The Police Ombudsman continued its investigation into how the police murder investigation was carried out.

Mrs Walsh had been due to receive the report following that investigation.

But instead, this week she was told that police had handed over material to a civil case which it had previously said did not exist.

"I thought the report must have been ready, but then I was told it wasn't ready again," she said.

"This morning, when I saw it all in print, I just broke down.

"I just thought, I am so tired now, I have just got so old, so sick and I don't know how I am going to go on with this. And then I rallied and thought, I have no choice, I have to keep going to see this through."

Mr Martin told a press conference the PSNI "never sought to deliberately withhold this information", adding police deeply regret that researchers had previously been unable to find it.

He said the error emerged when a different researcher preparing material for a civil case found it.

"He didn't apologise to me personally, I just heard he apologised somewhere to somebody," Mrs Walsh said.

"It is just a sham, and excuses. How come one person was able to find it and yet all these other ones couldn't."

Damien had been working on a Youth Training Programme at a fuel store at the back of a supermarket at the Dairy Farm shopping centre close to Twinbrook when he was attacked. He died in hospital the following morning.

No-one has been brought to justice for his murder.

Mrs Walsh, who has been diagnosed with PTSD after fighting for justice for her son for 26 years, said she did not feel hopeful anyone ever would.

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