Northern Ireland news


Loyalist spokesman David Campbell criticised after Police Ombudsman broadside

Loyalist Community Council spokesman David Campbell has been challenged to comment on recent violence. Picture: Stephen Davison.
Connla Young

A prominent loyalist spokesman has faced criticism after he launched a strong attack on the Police Ombudsman's Office.

David Campbell, who is chair of the Loyalist Communities Council, blasted the ombudsman's office after a report into the killing of MI5 agent Denis Donaldson was published this week.

Mr Donaldson was shot dead in Co Donegal in 2006 in an attack claimed by the now defunct Real IRA.

The investigation found no evidence that the PSNI leaked information about the former Sinn Féin official's whereabouts prior to his killing.

However, Marie Anderson concluded that police should have carried out a further risk assessment when media reports revealed Mr Donaldson was in hiding in Co Donegal.

The report is the latest in a series published by the ombudsman in recent months investigating the circumstances of killings linked to both loyalists and republicans.

Mr Campbell, who is a former chief of staff to ex-First Minister David Trimble, is critical of the recent reports.

"When are the selective, and one-sided reports and 'investigations' by the Police Ombudsman going to either end, or be balanced by fair reporting of the security conditions pertaining at the time of the incidents being investigated?" he said.

"The unionist community is sick and tired of the attempts to re-write the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland and blacken the security forces yet the vast majority of republican murders go un-resolved."

Mr Campbell also rounded on the PSNI.

"We are also tired of bleating apologies from senior PSNI officers," he said.

"The PSNI command needs to robustly reject these speculative assertions from the ombudsman."

He added that "those responsible for Denis Donaldson's murder were not the PSNI or MI5 but the republican terrorists who shot him and those who ordered his execution".

Denis Donaldson

"The other begging question is - was the Real IRA not simply a flag of convenience for PIRA?" he said

"Reports like this one from the ombudsman merely serve to distort the truth and allow the guilty parties to remain untouched and unpunished."

SDLP Policing Board member Doles Kelly last night said: "It's a low blow for David Campbell to issue such as statement in response to the callous murder of an individual who.... admitted to being an agent of the state.

SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly

"At times like this we should always think of the people and the families left behind."

Ms Kelly defended the role of the Police Ombudsman's Office.

"David Campbell should know by now that the Police Ombudsman's Office is impartial and independent of any government agency or any outside influence or interference," she said.

Ms Kelly added that "we should all be concerned in relation to any killing regardless of who the victim is or the alleged perpetrator is".

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said it "has a statutory duty to investigate all complaints about police conduct".

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson

"The ombudsman’s findings in relation to her investigations are based on the evidence and information which is gathered during the course of her investigations," she said.

"When the ombudsman determines that it is in the public interest to make a public statement on the findings of her investigations, she provides a clear and detailed rationale for her conclusions.”

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