Former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman (Watchdog) Nuala
O'Loan says she stands over her criticisms of the RUC's
investigation into the Omagh bomb.

Six years ago Sir Ronnie Flanagan had clashed publicly with
MS O'Loan after she issued an extremely critical report of
the RUC's handling of the case.

She said at that time that there were very significant
deficiencies and she criticised the leadership of the then
Chief Constable.

Ms O'Loan was speaking after the former RUC chief apologised
for the first time to the families of victims over the
failure to bring anyone to justice for the attack.

But victims' family members have stated that his apology was
'disingenuous' .

Flanagan said he was "desperately sorry" no-one had been
convicted for the 1998 Real IRA attack which killed 29 people.

But Sir Ronnie, now Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of
Constabulary, said he didn't see what positive outcome his
resignation could have.

"I have thought very carefully. The families' thoughts are
very important to me," he said. "But I do not see what
positive outcome there would be through my resignation."

Victor Barker, whose son was killed in Omagh, had called for
his resignation in the light of the court ruling.

Sir Ronnie made his apology after meeting Mr Barker on
Wednesday evening.

The judge in the trial of Sean Hoey, the only man charged in
the case, said that ee felt such disquiet about evidence
given by two police witnesses over forensics that he had
sent transcripts to the police ombudsman.

Mr Justice Weir said he found "deliberate and calculated
deception" by police officers.

This "made it impossible for me to accept any evidence given
by either witness," he said.

"Since I have no means of knowing whether they may have told
lies about other aspects of the case that were not capable
of being exposed as such."

In her devastating report into the Omagh Police
investigation, the Ombudsman at that time, Nuala O'Loan,
accused senior management in the Royal Ulster Constabulary
of being "defensive and uncooperative".

She also said officers who led the police inquiry into the
Real IRA bomb had been let down by:

-defective leadership

-poor judgment

-a lack of urgency.

And in an unprecedented attack on his leadership, Mrs O`Loan
lambasted the Chief Constable for his judgment.

She said: "The Police Ombudsman has concluded with great
sadness that the judgment and leadership of the Chief
Constable and Assistant Chief Constable has been seriously
flawed. As a result of that, the chances of detaining and
convicting the Omagh bombers has been significantly reduced."

"The victims, their families, the people of Omagh and
officers of the RUC were let down by defective leadership,
poor judgment and a lack of urgency," the report stated.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan and senior RUC officers also came under
fire for being "defensive and at times uncooperative" with
her inquiry into the investigation of the bomb.

Mrs O`Loan attacked the role of Special Branch officers,
criticising them for failing to pass on information warning
of threatened dissident republican terror strikes, including
one which was to take place in Omagh on the day the Real IRA
bombed the town.

The report confirmed police received two prior warnings
about plans to attack Omagh - the first coming on August 4
1998, 11 days before the car bomb.

The anonymous caller warned of an "unspecified" attack on
police in the town on August 15, naming a number of individuals.

However, Special Branch was accused of taking only limited
action, telling the officer who took the call that those
named by the caller were "only smugglers".

No information was passed on to the Sub-Divisional Commander
- a decision which the Ombudsman`s report believed was in
contravention of the RUC Force Order.

The Ombudsman noted RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan
told their investigative team he was satisfied the anonymous
caller`s information was not relevant to the bomb.

However when the Sub Divisional Commander in Omagh was shown
the intelligence two years later on the anniversary of the
explosion, the report noted he said "he would have set up
vehicle checkpoints".

More crucial however was the RUC's reaction to a warning
given by an undercover agent three days before the bomb.

RUC informer 'Kevin Fulton' also alerted his handler in the
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that terrorists were
"about to move something north (of the Irish border) over
the next few days" and identified a dissident republican.

Fulton identified the bomber and the vehicle to be used in
the attack. However, no record of the meeting between Fulton
and his handler could be found in RUC Special Branch.

This was despite RUC Criminal Investigation Division (CID)
claims that the information was passed on to RUC Special Branch.

The Ombudsman said it was satisfied the intelligence was
passed to Special Branch and said the officers` claims they
did not receive document represented "at the very least, a
very serious breakdown in communication".
There would be no positive outcome to his resignation. The errors, omissions, perjuries and incompetencies were further down the scale from him, and further up it. For a crucial period of time he was in a situation where he had a job which was technically impossible to fulfil without breaking political promises made on his behalf. That does not mean to say that someone should not be hung out to dry, because the self-evident truth is that justice has very clearly not been served, and it is well within the competence of the authorities in two countries to ensure that it is. It won't happen, though, under this most cowardly of administrations.

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