Northern Ireland

Sean Brown murder: Nuala O’Loan might have ‘produced a very different report’ if she’d known about state agent links

Coroner hears in excess of 25 individuals linked to intelligence in GAA man’s murder

Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan
Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan

Former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan has said she might have “produced a very different report” had she been aware that state agents were linked to the murder of GAA official Sean Brown.

The former ombudsman spoke of her ‘shock’ after an inquest review heard that in excess of 25 individuals - including state agents - were linked by intelligence to the murder of Mr Brown.

The father-of-six was attacked and beaten by a LVF gang as he locked the gates at Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC, Co Derry, in May 1997.

The 61-year-old was later placed in the boot of his own car and taken to a country lane outside Randalstown, Co Antrim, where he was shot six times.

While collusion has always been suspected in the murder, it has now been officially confirmed for the first time that state agents were involved.

Joseph Aiken KC, counsel for coroner Patrick Kinney, confirmed their involvement at a hearing in Belfast on Tuesday.

Mr Brown’s murder was investigated by police in 1997 and reviewed in 2004.

It was also investigated by Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan in 2004 along with the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team.

Ms O’Loan described the new information as “shocking”.

“I haven’t seen the material so I can’t comment, but I do not believe that I saw intelligence linking 25 individuals to the murder,” she said.

The former ombudsman also referred to the link to state agents.

“I would have to revisit the files to be absolutely definitive, but I think had I seen that, I might have produced a very different report,” she said.

She also voiced concern at the length of time it has taken for the Brown family to be told the truth.

“I think it’s outrageous that it has taken this long, and the Brown family have had to sit through hearing after hearing when material hasn’t been produced,” she said.

“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that Mrs Brown has been subjected to this, and her children.”

Mr Brown’s inquest, which is due to resume next month, is one of several that will end on May 1 if they are not at their findings stage under the British government’s controversial Legacy Act.

“This shows the importance of inquests,” Ms O’Loan said.

“This shows why the government is doing what it is doing through the Legacy Act and shouldn’t have passed this act.”

Ms O’Loan added that she may raise her concerns in the House of Lords.