Nuala O’Loan, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, repeated her insistence that police must be accountable if the security forces are to have any credibility among both communities in the North.
“We must be evidence-based, not influenced by political expediency or any other cause,” she said, speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Co. Donegal. “In my Omagh investigation and in others, I have found failures of intelligence-handling and management and the consequence of this appears to be that those who might have been made amenable for crime have not always been apprehended. They have remained at large to commit further serious crime.”
In a strongly-worded address O’Loan referred to abuse of position by police forces both sides of the Irish border. “I do not need to rehearse the stories of policing in Donegal and in the North,” she began, in reference to an ongoing investigation into garda corruption in Co. Donegal.
“This is not to suggest that all police officers are corrupt. That would be nonsense. Nor do I think that people become police officers because they will have extensive power over others. I firmly believe that most people who become police officers do so because they are motivated by the desire to protect life and property and to prevent crime.
“Something happens somewhere along the line, often to those who are the best police officers. Sometimes it is noble-cause corruption, the corruption which arises because people decide to do wrong things to achieve what they see as proper ends.”
The Ombudsman’s office deals with public complaints against the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) — the body which replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Last year 2,885 complaints were made, with the Protestant/Catholic divide 47/37 percent ♦