Reaction to inquiry into the death of Billy Wright
The inquiry into the death of Billy Wright has found there was no state collusion, but a number of serious failings by the prison service as a result of negligence prior to his killing at the Maze prison by the INLA in December 1997. Below is reaction to the inquiry's findings.
DAVID WRIGHT, FATHER OF BILLY WRIGHT
"It looks like collusion, it sounds like collusion and in my mind amounts to firm and final proof of collusion by state agencies.
"It is appalling that in a democratic society that a finding has now been made that the (failure to pass on information) by the RUC of various threats against Billy Wright between 1996 and 1997 constituted dreadful acts of omission that facilitated his death."
OWEN PATERSON, NI SECRETARY OF STATE
"I reiterate that on behalf of the Government today. There was no collusion. But, as the panel make clear, Billy Wright was in the 'protective custody of the state' at the time of his death.
"Whatever horrendous crimes Billy Wright or the LVF committed, his murder in a high-security prison should never have happened.
"It was wrong and I am sincerely sorry that failings in the system facilitated his murder."
LORD MACLEAN, BILLY WRIGHT INQUIRY PANEL CHAIRMAN
"The murder of Billy Wright was a tragic event, it was the murder of young man in the protective custody of the state and questions had to be asked, and if possible answered.
"We hope our report will put an end to speculation that has continued over the years regarding state involvement in that murder."
SIR ROBIN MASEFIELD, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF NI PRISON SERVICE
"On behalf of current and former members of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS), I welcome the key finding in the Inquiry report that there was no collusion in the murder of Billy Wright in the Maze Prison nearly 13 years ago.
"This dispels a cloud that has unfairly hung over the Service since the allegation was first made.
"As to the findings of negligence, I would point out that NIPS had previously, as long ago as 2002, accepted negligence in civil proceedings. But it is important to note that the report, after its exhaustive proceedings over four years, makes no finding that any failing by any manager or member of staff was intentional."
THE POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND
"We welcome the fact that the inquiry found no evidence of collusion by state agencies or of any deliberate wrongdoing.
"Where failings are identified, in relation to the police, the inquiry has concluded that these were not intentional or part of any deliberate act that was linked to the murder of Billy Wright.
"However, we do acknowledge that failure, by the RUC, to pass on intelligence to Prison Authorities in April 1997 may have contributed to the chain of events leading to the death of Billy Wright eight months later."
SHAUN WOODWARD, SHADOW NI SECRETARY OF STATE
"This has been an important inquiry, whatever the context of the troubles, whatever the crimes Billy Wright has committed and which led to him serving a custodial sentence, nothing should condone or excuse the terrible events two days after Christmas in 1997."
DAVID SIMPSON, MP FOR UPPER BANN
"The murder of any person in the custody of the state is a failure of its duty of care.
"Regardless of what Billy Wright may have done in his life, that it should have been snuffed out whilst he was a prisoner in HMP Maze is a scandalous turn of events.
"The fact that it has been impossible to establish how firearms were smuggled in to what was supposed to be a maximum security prison undermines the credibility of this entire report."
JOHN O'DOWD, SINN FEIN ASSEMBLY MEMBER
"It will come as no surprise that the report places much of the blame at the feet of the prison administration.
"We would strongly support the recommendation contained in the report for a complete overhaul of the administration of the prison system in the north."
TOM ELLIOTT, ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY ASSEMBLY MEMBER
"Today's report may have significant implications for our prison service and in particular Maghaberry prison, which is the sole high security prison in Northern Ireland.
"Politicians and the Minister for Justice will have to fully digest this report and reflect on its implications for current operations in Northern Ireland."
DOLORES KELLY, SDLP ASSEMBLY MEMBER
"Billy Wright was an evil, dangerous man and those who murdered him were very similar.
"The Maze was a dangerous place but this cannot excuse the litany of negligence that the inquiry found, including both omissions and wrongful acts which facilitated the murder.
"There is no reason to think that the Prison Service has mended its ways and there are many recent indications that it has not."
STEPHEN FARRY, ALLIANCE ASSEMBLY MEMBER
"This report raises major issues regarding policing, security and prison failures.
"While some comfort can be taken at a finding of no collusion of the state in the death of Billy Wright, there should be no complacency with respect to the serious issues that the inquiry has uncovered."
JIM ALLISTER, LEADER OF THE TUV
"The monumental failings in the Maze, confirmed in today's report, including the presence of murder weapons, are the direct result of the NIO surrender of the Maze to terrorist control.
"They are shocking indictments which must not go unpunished. Mere apology and regret will not suffice."