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31 January 2002 Edition

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Doherty backs independent Omagh inquiry

Speaking after the meeting between the families of those killed in the Omagh bomb and Ronnie Flanagan last Thursday, the MP for the area, Sinn Féin's Pat Doherty, said:

"The Ombudsman was highly critical of the Special Branch in respect of a number of crucial areas. She made a number of recommendations - some of which may have the potential to deliver change - but she is powerless to ensure they are implemented.

"The problem is that Ronnie Flanagan can and will ignore these recommendations. In fact in his report he has already indicated that he will not accept at least two of the six recommendations. What all of this demonstrates is the gaps and failure of the amended arrangements to provide accountability and freedom from partisan political control.

"The Policing Board will now consider these two reports. However, like the Ombudsman's office, it does not have the power to force changes, it can only make recommendations.

"The real power rests with the British Secretary of State and the former RUC Chief Ronnie Flanagan, not with the Board or the Ombudsman. Accountability is completely absent from these arrangements. The Omagh families deserve to find the truth. So far they have been denied this. I agree with the families that in light of the Ombudsman's report and the McVicker report and the media exposure of RUC incompetence and Special Branch cover ups, the only way the truth can be established is through an independent inquiry."

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