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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 14:10 GMT
Police 'must account for Omagh actions'
The Omagh bomb killed 29 people
Omagh was the worst single atrocity of the Troubles
The leader of the SDLP has said the police must be held accountable for the charges made against them in report into the Omagh bomb investigation.

The Police Ombudsman said the judgement and leadership of Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan, and the assistant chief constable of the crime division, during the investigation was "seriously flawed".

Sir Ronnie is considering taking legal action to have the report quashed.

Nuala O'Loan: Spoke to the relatives of the victims
Nuala O'Loan: Damning report

The families of some of the 29 people who died in the 1998 Real IRA atrocity are calling for a public inquiry.

The Policing Board is to hold a special meeting early next month to discuss Nuala O'Loan's report which was published on Wednesday.

Deputy First Minister and leader of the SDLP Mark Durkan said the police must be held fully accountable for the charges made against them.

"We want to see the chief constable and the others account fully through the means that are there," he said.

"The police ombudsman is one area of accountability. Obviously now the policing board is going to be looking at this case specifically at a special meeting in January.

"It will be looking at reports from the chief constable as well as the ombudsman and seeking views from the families of the victims."

It is understood that the chief constable, the police ombudsman and relatives of the Omagh victims will be invited to the special meeting.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: "Report grossly unfair"

The Policing Board, which includes 10 political representatives and nine non-political appointees, is responsible for overseeing the new service and can hold the chief constable to account.

The deputy chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley, said it was probably the only independent organisation which could examine the conflict between the chief constable and the police ombudsman.

He said the issues over police accountability raised in the report were very serious.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern welcomed the ombudsman's report on Omagh, which he said, needed to be studied carefully.

"It has to get consideration and be looked at by everybody involved including the families," he said.

"It is a very important report and its recommendations have to be examined very carefully."

Public inquiry

Des Doherty, the solicitor for Lawrence Rush, whose wife Elizabeth died in the explosion, urged the chief constable to respond to the report in a "constructive manner".

"The suffering of the families could not have been prolonged any further," he said.

Mr Doherty added: "If there are to be no prosecutions in the case, as Lawrence genuinely feels, it may well be that a public inquiry is the only way forward."

On Wednesday, Sir Ronnie said he considered the report to represent neither a "fair, thorough or rigorous investigation".

He said if he believed the allegations in the report had been true "I would not only resign, I would publicly commit suicide".

The ombudsman's report recommended a senior officer from an outside police force be asked to conduct an investigation into the bombing.

The report also recommended a review into the role and function of Special Branch which is heavily criticised for not passing on intelligence information about an attack.

Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Omagh report
What do you think of the findings?
See also:

12 Dec 01 | N Ireland
12 Dec 01 | N Ireland
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