Northern Ireland

Politicans react to highly critical ombudsman's report

A report carried out by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) has been highly critical of the police ombudsman's office.

Politicans have been giving their reaction to the findings which have said the office's independence has been lowered by its handling of historical cases.

Paul Givan, DUP, chairman of justice committee

"The real issues that need to be addressed in light of this report are the responsibilities and remit of the ombudsman's office.

"The office was established in order to provide scrutiny and accountability of policing here and this should be the role fulfilled by the office; not carrying out a review of historical events.

"Dealing with the past in Northern Ireland is a highly sensitive topic and it is a highly politicised issue.

"A review should be initiated to consider removing powers from the ombudsman's office to investigate historical events into policing that took place during the terrorist conflict.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein

"This is the third report which is an absolute indictment of Al Hutchinson's leadership of the ombudsman's office.

"I believe in the ombudsmans' office, I believe that it is a very important accountability mechanism which is crucial to the new policing dispensation, but under Al Hutchison, its independence has been lowered according to the CJI.

"And the ombudsman's office, at its core, has to be independent.

"I think Al Hutchinson has to go."

Stewart Dickson, Alliance

"This is a robust and thorough report, and I look forward to discussing it with the chief inspector of Criminal Justice Dr Michael Maguire at the justice committee on Thursday.

"I am concerned at the nature of the findings and it is vital that action must come following the publication of this important report.

"It is of paramount importance that people can have total confidence in the police ombudsman's Office.

"The public needs to be reassured that Al Hutchinson will be able to implement all the recommendations from this report."

Alban Maginness, SDLP

"The independence of the police ombudsman's office has, yet again, been damaged by this devastating report.

"It is now vital that the divisions within the office are healed in order for it to function properly and historic investigations must be properly funded and managed.

"A consistent approach to all investigations must be adopted with the police being dealt within a rigorously independent fashion."

Basil McCrea, UUP

"Perhaps we were asking too much of the ombudsman's office.

"Of course impartial, independent and competent investigation is required but the political process has also failed.

"Historical enquires by their very nature are sensitive, emotive and often contentious.

"The political process has been unable to address these issues. Our failure to do so has put huge strains on the ombudsman's office.

"His failure is also our failure."