Diarmuid O'Neill campaign continues
By Laura Friel
Last weekend was the fourth anniversary of the shooting dead by
the metropolitan police of Diarmuid O'Neill, in a house in
Glenthorne Road, Hammersmith. At the time of the shooting the
media, presumably in reliance on police briefings, reported that
there had been a gun battle with the police and that arms and
explosives had been found at the house. Neither of those
statements were true.
Diarmuid O'Neill was unarmed and was shot six times by the
police. A police officer imprinted his boot mark on Diarmuid's
head as he lay bleeding on the floor and he was then dragged down
the stone steps and onto the pavement. It was 25 minutes before
an ambulance was provided, although an ambulance had been waiting
in readiness near to the house. He died of his injuries that same
Mr. John Grieve was head of the `anti-terrorist' squad at the
time. He was in charge of the operation that ended in the killing
of Diarmuid O'Neill. On Friday 22 September Grieve was the
keynote speaker at a conference in Hammersmith Town Hall hosted
by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
Mr. Grieve told the gathering of Council officers and workers,
trade unionists and representatives from the borough's community
organisations of what the police are doing to reform themselves
following the findings of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. He
assured the audience that he was not there to let the cops off
It was in this context that Mr. Grieve was asked what the
families, whose loved ones have been killed by the police or who
had died whilst in their custody, might now expect by way of
redress. It was pointed out that the family of Diarmuid O'Neill
have received no satisfaction whatsoever, in response to their
need to have the tragedy of their son fully investigated by an
independent public inquiry.
Mr. Grieve's response was unsatisfactory. He said that these
matters had been fully investigated ``externally'' and explored in
public inquiry. He said it was no longer a matter for the police
but for the Home Office and the ``democratic process'' - so much
for not letting the cops off the hook.
Mr, Grieve is wrong. There has been no public inquiry into
O'Neill's death and all the circumstances surrounding it,
including the planning and conduct of the operation and police
behaviour. That is what the Justice for Diarmuid O'Neill campaign
has been asking for for nearly four years. Furthermore the matter
was not investigated by anyone other than the metropolitan
police. SO19, who did the shooting, and the police officers in
the Complaints Investigation Bureau, who conducted the
investigation for the Police Complaints Authority, are both part
of the metropolitan police. The report from the investigation was
secret and has never been disclosed to the O'Neill family.
If Mr grieve can be mistaken about the O'Neill case - in which he
was involved - how can we be sure that he is not mistaken about
many other very important matters over which he has
responsibility. This is in the capacity of his new post as Head
of Race and Violent Crime at the Metropolitan Police. How can we
be sure that the ``cops won't be let off the hook'' as he put it?
We cannot be sure and that prospect raises very deep concerns for
our people, of whatever race or national origin.