Northern Ireland news

Family of Sean Graham's attack call on Ombudsman to release report after new delay

Tommy Duffin with a picture of his father Jack who was murdered in the 1992 attack. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A MAN whose father was killed in the UFF gun attack on Sean Graham's bookmakers has said the Police Ombudsman should release the report into his death immediately, despite yet another admission from the PSNI that further disclosure had been uncovered.

In February the PSNI apologised and said it would be reviewing its IT systems for disclosing information after it emerged that disclosure provided to a legacy civil case had not been shared with the Police Ombudsman's office.

The information was at the time thought to include sensitive material relating to the attack on the lower Ormeau bookmakers in 1992 when five people were shot dead.

It caused a further delay in the release of an almost completed ombudsman's report into the police handling of the original inquiry.

An overhaul and modernisation of the system for disclosing police documents in legacy cases has now been completed. The PSNI however has said other previously unshared documents have been recovered and forwarded to the police watchdog.

Tommy Duffin, whose 66-year-old father Jack Duffin was one of the five people murdered in the 1992 UFF attack, said the families have "had enough" and feel it is time for the ombudsman's office to present them with what information has been gathered to date.

"We are coming up to the 28th anniversary of the killings," said Mr Duffin.

"Since day one we've been drip fed information and been given excuse after excuse."

He said they believed they would continue to "be fobbed off".

He added: "We have waited long enough. Our mother is 91-year's-old. I want to see what the ombudsman has so far. If they want to add to it at a later date then so be it, but all we've ever wanted is the truth.

"The information is available. The ombudsman should stop delaying because there will always be another mistake, another blunder another excuse to delay this process and we've had enough."

Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke, who heads up the PSNI legacy branch, apologised once again to the families. He added that the new system "allows for a more enhanced search function" which should prevent further similar incidents.

There will now be a single search unit within PSNI legacy to carry out disclosure obligations.

"These system improvements have identified some potentially relevant information. In line with our legal obligations and our commitment to transparency we have brought this material to the attention of the Police Ombudsman for their consideration," ACC Clarke said.

"Ultimately, determining what of this material is new or relevant is a matter for the Police Ombudsman.

"We are acutely aware of the impact that this development will have on the families of the victims of this terrible event.

"I wish to reiterate the PSNI’s public apology made to families back in February this year for the additional hurt and distress this causes those closest to this terrible tragedy."

ACC Clarke added: "We have previously and publicly stated many times that our preference would be to hand all our information and disclosure responsibilities to a Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).

"This transfer of data ownership from PSNI to the director of HIU, along with all associated legal responsibilities, would provide for high levels of independence and would promote public confidence in sensitive areas such as disclosure."

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson, said she had informed a number of families following the PSNI’s identification of further material.

"This involves a considerable amount of material and we are carefully going through it to establish if it has ever been provided to us before.

"To date, none of this information is notably significant or presents us with new lines of inquiry.

"Nevertheless, we must satisfy ourselves that this information is thoroughly assessed. This may cause a delay in investigations which had been nearing completion", she said.

A spokesperson for Relatives For Justice said families on the Ormeau Road and in south Derry and north Antrim were questioning how the delays were happening.

"It doesn’t seem to matter how many resources are put into efficient disclosure, the problems persist," he said.

Niall Murphy of KRW Law said that the ongoing excuses were "not good enough".

He said there was a fear police are attempting to "hold off on the truth until the families have passed away."

He said: "Families have a legitimate expectation that the police ombudsman will have unfettered access to all sensitive documentation.

"The fact is that has not happened. That is a matter of great distress to the families today," he said.

"From the families' perspective, it's distressing, disappointing but not surprising".

Read more: Time to take legacy away from the PSNI (premium)

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