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O'Loan investigation could never happen here - Ó Snodaigh

23 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to give the new Garda Ombudsman Commission resources, staff and powers at least equivalent to those of Nuala O'Loan, the Police Ombudsman in the Six Counties. He was speaking after the publication yesterday by Ms O'Loan of a damning report exposing RUC collusion with loyalist death squads and made the point that a similarly thorough investigation on Garda misconduct would be impossible in this state.

The Dublin South Central TD said: "In terms of legal powers, Nuala O'Loan has the power to investigate retired officers, which proved crucial to her investigation into collusion surrounding the killing of Raymond McCord Jnr and others. The Garda Ombudsman has no such power.

"Nuala O'Loan has full access to PSNI documents and stations in order to conduct her investigations. By contrast the Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell can thwart any future investigation by An Garda Ombudsman Commission by denying it access on the grounds of 'state security'. The excuse of state security has been misused and abused by successive Ministers.

"Under current provisions it is unlikely that the Ombudsman Commission would be able to conduct an independent investigation, akin to that conducted by Nuala O'Loan, into collusion involving Gardaí, in cases such as the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the murder of Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton.

"It is equally unlikely it would be able to investigate throughout Garda complicity in the deaths of Terence Wheelock, Brian Rossiter and John Maloney.

"I am calling on the government to rectify these two crucial shortcomings with amending legislation and to ensure equivalence as required by the Good Friday Agreement.

"In terms of resources, Nuala O'Loan's office has 125 staff, none of which are members of the PSNI, to deal with 5,000 officers. The Ombudsman Commission have fewer staff to deal with nearly three times as many officers.

"It also receives less funding than Nuala O'Loan's office. Because of under staffing the new commission will have to rely heavily on Gardaí to carry out the investigations for them which is just the same as the current situation of the Gardaí investigating themselves."


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