Republican News · Thursday 5 October 1999

[An Phoblacht]

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 morning.

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 the hook.

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.

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