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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 16:49 GMT
Reaction to Ombudsman's report
Leading political figures have been giving their reaction to a report from Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan into collusion between the police and loyalists in north Belfast

PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR'S SPOKESMAN

"This is a deeply disturbing report about events which were totally wrong and should never have happened. The fact that they did is a matter of profound regret and the Prime Minister shares that regret.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair "shares in the regret" over what happened

"But this is also a report about the past and what is important now is that new structures introducing a lot of information about the PSNI means that these events could not happen now.

"What matters at this stage is that the whole community supports that process of transformation."

IRISH PRIME MINISTER BERTIE AHERN

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern said the report was "deeply disturbing"

"While much has changed for the better in recent years, today's ombudsman's report is deeply disturbing.

"Its findings are of the utmost gravity. It paints a picture of despicable past behaviour. The government will study the detail in this report carefully and will discuss the matter further with the British government."

CHIEF CONSTABLE HUGH ORDE

Sir Hugh Orde offered an apology to the victims' families and said the report made "shocking, disturbing and uncomfortable reading".

Sir Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh said the report was "shocking and disturbing"

"It does not reflect well on the individuals involved, particularly those responsible for their management and oversight.

"While I appreciate that it cannot redress some of the tragic consequences visited upon the families of those touched by the incidents investigated in this report, I offer a whole-hearted apology for anything done or left undone."

He said the force had undergone "significant re-organisation" and that the new systems and processes to deal with this "most difficult area of policing which we have put in place over the last four and a half years will ensure that the situation described by the Ombudsman could never happen again in Northern Ireland".

SECRETARY OF STATE PETER HAIN

Mr Hain acknowledged that the report would make "extremely uncomfortable reading" and said it "shone a torch into a very dark corner".

Peter Hain
Peter Hain said the report was "extremely uncomfortable reading"

But he said that policing in Northern Ireland had now changed.

"These things - murder, collusion, cover-up, obstruction of investigations - could not happen today, not least because of the accountability mechanisms that have been put in place over recent years.

He added: "There are all sorts of opportunities for prosecutions to follow. The fact that some retired police officers obstructed the investigation and refused to co-operate with the Police Ombudsman is very serious in itself.

"There will be consequences for those involved and it is a matter for the relevant bodies to take up."

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER MONICA MCWILLIAMS

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said it condemned the human rights violations revealed in the report.

monica mcwilliams
Monica McWilliams condemned human rights violations

Chief commissioner Professor Monica McWilliams said: "The report raises a number of major human rights concerns and reveals a systemic failure in the management and operation of police intelligence systems."

"I believe there is a need to reopen a number of the murder investigations referred to in the report and the commission will be urgently addressing the means by which this can be taken forward.

"The commission also believes that government should take into account United Nations guidelines on the removal from public service of officials and officers responsible for such violations."

JIMMY SPRATT, DUP

Mr Spratt, a former Police Federation chairman, said: "If this report had had one shred of credible evidence then we could have expected charges against former Police Officers.

"There are no charges, so the public should draw their own conclusion, the report is clearly based on little fact.

"This report is another clear example why both serving and former Police Officers have no confidence in the Police Ombudsman or her office, the goverment should immediately appoint an independent body to investigate complaints made against her and her office."

MARTIN McGUINNESS, SINN FEIN

"For 25 years, we in Sinn Fein argued that there was collusion between elements within British Military Intelligence, RUC Special Branch and loyalist paramilitaries, causing the deaths of over 1,000 people. This really is only the tip of the iceberg, a window on a small area of north Belfast.

Martin McGuinness
Mr McGuinness said Raymond McCord was owed much gratitude

"There is no doubt, whatsoever, in my view, that the most senior people imaginable within the RUC were involved in this. This was institutional practice.

"Many people poo pooed this allegation as republican propaganda. But now we've been vindicated by an unlikely source, someone within the loyalist community.

"All of us own Raymond McCord a great deal of gratitude."

ALEX ATTWOOD, SDLP

"All of this is appalling.

"Those involved in any of this - be they agents or officers or anyone else - should face the full consequences for their actions, including prosecution.

"That is why the PSNI and PONI must relentlessly pursue those involved. The risk that people referred to in the McCord report or those named in the Stevens Inquiry or the On The Runs all going free without penalty and punishment is real and must not be tolerated."

DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE LEADER

"This comprehensive document sheds some much-needed light on incidents and practices which must be examined even further. "The authorities must pay attention to this report to ensure that they can build confidence in the Police to ensure the full support of everyone in this community.

"There are clearly major concerns regarding the conduct of some of the authorities in the past and these concerns must be addressed swiftly and effectively."

PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST PARTY

In a statement the PUP described the results of the ombudsman's report as "both appalling and shameful".

"It highlights the failings of some RUC Special Branch handlers to uphold law and order and act with integrity and honesty in performing their duties," the PUP said.

"This failure quite literally allowed informants to get away with murder.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those killed, some of whom are learning for the first time that security forces colluded in the death of their loved ones."






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