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Orde Misleads Public Over O'Connor Case

6 June, 2004


Sinn Féin Assembly member for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy has accused the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde of deliberately misleading the public over the disappearance of Armagh man Gareth O'Connor. Mr Murphy's comments come after Crown Prosecutors admitted in court that Mr. O'Connor was linked to the PSNI Special Branch.

Mr Murphy said:

"Last year Hugh Orde in a well planned media intervention declared that he believed that the IRA was involved in the disappearance of Armagh man Gareth O'Connor, this despite the fact that the IRA had denied all knowledge of this. This intervention was clearly planned to cause the maximum political disruption possible to the peace process. His intervention was latched onto by the predictable anti-Republican elements in the media and elsewhere.

" What Hugh Orde failed to declare was that Mr. O'Connor had been working closely with the PSNI Special Branch and that he had in his possession two mobile telephones provided by his officers. On Friday the PSNI slapped a Public Interest Immunity Certificate on the case. It is clear that the PSNI have information relating to Mr. O'Connor which they wish to keep from his f amily and the rest of the general public.

" Hugh Orde was clearly aware of the relationship between his organisation and Mr O'Connor when he made his public intervention. Hugh Orde now needs to explain his position. He needs to tell us why he deliberately misled the public about this matter. He needs to explain why he made the political intervention he did. He needs to provide to the family of Mr O'Connor all of the information relating to this case which he is presently hiding.

" This case again demonstrates the malign influence that Special Branch continues to have over policing in the six counties. The use of the Public Interest Immunity Certificate shows that the culture of concealment is alive and well at the heart of Orde's PSNI. Mr Orde and those who provide his political cover cannot continue to be allowed to ignore cases like this. They need to tell us how political policing of this kind fits into their model of an accountable and acceptable policing service." ENDS

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