Allegations of collusion made again without any evidence-based test

DUP Policing Board member Joanne Bunting has commented on the publication of a report by the Police Ombudsman which found that the RUC had no prior knowledge of a series of murders perpetrated by the UDA/UFF between 1989 and 1993.

By Joanne Bunting Candidate

Belfast East

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Expressing reservations in relation to the Ombudsman’s finding of “collusive behaviours”, Ms Bunting said:

We note the publication of today’s report and will want to take time to examine its contents in greater detail.

This matter been the subject of an extremely protracted investigation and our thoughts first and foremost are with the families who were the target of these barbaric and unjustifiable terrorist acts.

Nobody should be above the law. Every allegation of wrongdoing must be robustly investigated. Equally, every individual deserves the protection of due process. It is deeply concerning that the Ombudsman’s finding of ‘collusive behaviours’ is not based on any agreed or independent definition in law indeed this is not the first time such a conclusion has been drawn by that Office but not backed up with robust evidence.

This lack of an evidence-based test for alleged collusion has far-reaching implications. Not just for defending the reputation of the RUC and the memory of the vast majority of officers who served with professionalism within the law during this period, but for future confidence in the Ombudsman’s ability to approach these issues in a fair and even-handed way.

Many of the conclusions drawn in this report fail to reflect the highly challenging policing environment during this period. The claim that the RUC could have better utilised its operational resources to combat the threat of the UDA/UFF seems to ignore the fact that this was only one of several terrorist organisations operating with deadly effect at that time.

The police should be held to account for how it allocates finite resources or makes other strategic operational decisions. It is not however reasonable to simply class these decisions in the realm of collusion.

This simply serves to deflect attention from those who instigated and carried out these murders, who keep no records, sustain a wall of silence and continue to escape a full and thorough criminal investigation.''

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