The Police Ombudsman in the north of Ireland has again delayed publication of three reports on loyalist murders after previously undisclosed files were uncovered. The material was found due to a recent computer upgrade, according to the PSNI.
One report covers the attack at Sean Graham bookmakers on the Ormeau Road in Belfast in 1992.
In February, the PSNI were accused of a cover-up of the massacre in which five Catholic civilian died after it failed to reveal “significant information” about the gun attack. The controversy added to pressure on then PSNI Chief George Hamilton, who resigned shortly afterwards.
“He led us up a garden path. He knew, the PSNI knew these files were here, they just hid them from the Police Ombudsman,” said Billy McManus, whose father was one of the victims of the attack.
But there are concenrs the release of documentation is now being used as a delaying tactic. Families fear the PSNI are attempting to “hold off on the truth until the families have passed away”, according to Belfast lawyer Niall Murphy. He said there was a policy of “deny deny deny, delay delay delay, die die die”, which was in its final stages.
“Families have a legitimate expectation that the Police Ombudsman will have unfettered access to all sensitive documentation,” he said. “The fact is that has not happened. That is a matter of great distress to the families today.
“From the families’ perspective, it’s distressing, disappointing but not surprising”.
Tommy Duffin, whose 66-year-old father Jack was one of the five people murdered in the attack, said the families have “had enough” and feel it is time for the ombudsman’s office to present them with what information has been gathered to date.
“We are coming up to the 28th anniversary of the killings,” said Mr Duffin.
“Since day one we’ve been drip fed information and been given excuse after excuse.”
He said they believed they would continue to “be fobbed off”.
“We have waited long enough. Our mother is 91-year’s-old. I want to see what the ombudsman has so far. If they want to add to it at a later date then so be it, but all we’ve ever wanted is the truth.
“The information is available. The ombudsman should stop delaying because there will always be another mistake, another blunder another excuse to delay this process and we’ve had enough.”