North families call for Hutchinson to resign

By Kieran Hughes

North Belfast families whose loved ones were murdered during the Troubles were among the loudest voices calling for the immediate resignation of the Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson after more revelations questioning the independence of his office.

Relatives of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre and UVF murder victims Tommy McAuley and Raymond McCord Jnr were joined by the families of Loughinisland Massacre and the Ballymurphy Massacre in staging a protest outside the Ombudsman’s office yesterday (Wednesday).

The protest follows a BBC programme screened on Tuesday night which former Chief Executive of the Ombudsman’s office Sam Pollock said he had “lost all confidence in the direction of the Office and the independence of the Office in relation to very serious matters”.

In September the Criminal Justice Inspectorate released a damning report questioning Al Hutchinson’s independence saying he had been “heavily influenced” by families and their legal teams, the PSNI and others.

Robert McClenaghan, whose grandfather Phillip Garry was killed in the 1971 McGurk’s Bar bombing by the UVF, said Al Hutchinson carries “full responsibility” for the problems of the office.

“It is now crystal clear to all the families that Al Hutchinson remaining in place will just further bring damage to the reputation of the office,” he said.

“Our collective, considered opinion is that Al Hutchinson carries full responsibility for this incredible situation and we call on everyone to support us as we call upon him to go.”

Paul McAuley, whose brother Tommy was shot at his restaurant on the Crumlin Road in December 1987, has been campaigning for his case to be investigated by the Ombudsman.

“We have been fighting and fighting to get somewhere and now it feels like we are back to the start again,” he said.

“He has to go and as far as our case in concerned I don’t know why we should have to beg to get it investigated. Murder is murder.”

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said the longer Hutchinson stays in the job the more damage is done to the integrity of the office.

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