Northern Ireland

Mother of loyalist murder victim says she only wants "justice" after former senior RUC officer criticises Police Ombudsman's report into the murder.

UDA/UFF murder victim Damien Walsh
UDA/UFF murder victim Damien Walsh

THE mother of a teenager shot dead by the UDA/UFF has said she only wants "justice" after a former senior RUC officer criticised a Police Ombudsman's report into the murder.

Damien Walsh (17) was shot dead by Johnny Adair's notorious ‘C Company' as he worked at the Dairy Farm shopping centre near Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast on March 25 1993.

In a report published last month Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said there were "significant investigative failures" and evidence of "collusive behaviours" by police in relation to the murder.

In the delayed report Mrs Anderson said she believes that information was not shared with investigators to “safeguard sources of information” and that consequently the murder probe was “impeded”.

Her report also revealed that the UDA was receiving “targeting information directly from British intelligence".

Significantly, she also confirmed that in late June 1993 intelligence was received that "police were providing information to loyalists about individuals in west Belfast".

“Two incidents were referred to, one of which was Damien’s murder,” she said.

During her investigation ombudsman officials made efforts to engage with 57 police officers.

A number of these either declined or were unable to assist.

In total 26 officers cop-operated and provided accounts of their roles.

Raymond White, a former RUC assistant chief constable and senior RUC Special Branch officer, raised objections to parts of the report last night.

In a lengthy statement Mr White, who also served in the PSNI, raised concerns about the length of time the investigation, which began in 2004, "which means that for 17 years all retired police personnel and their families have had to endure the stress generated by a criminal investigation and the related intrusions by investigating (police ombudsman) personnel into their private lives".

He also raised questions about the use of the phrase "collusive behaviour".

"The fact that the ombudsman’s statement does not indicate to what extent or at what stage of her investigation she sought to invite Mrs Walsh to be more specific as regards what factors surrounding her son’s murder she thought amounted to “collusion” is a serious and deeply concerning omission," he said.

Mrs Walsh last night said she was "grateful to any police officer in the murder investigation who have co-operated with the Police Ombudsman.

"I only want truth and justice for my dead child," she said.

"The police officers, retired or otherwise are not the victims here, we are."

Mike Ritchie of Relatives For Justice: "The delays that he complains about were caused by state agencies withholding information and because the ombudsman lacks adequate resources to complete her investigations more speedily."

He added that "an independent person has looked at the facts and come to an independent conclusion."

In response the Police Ombudsman said that it recognised "that the timescale of this investigation is longer than anyone would want".

It added that there were a number of factors "which have contributed to this delay including the long-standing under-resourcing of history investigations (and) issues around the disclosure of information during the course of the investigation..."