Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (246)

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

363 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to parliamentary questions tabled on 11 March 1999, 3 October 2000, 5 December 2000, 22 March 2000 and 3 July 2001, his views on the recently issued report by the ombudsman in Northern Ireland in regard to a person (details supplied) in County Derry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1753/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The family of Seán Brown lodged its complaints with the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in March 2001 about the police investigation into his murder. Her report was published on 19 January 2004 and it identified a number of serious faults about the manner in which the police handled the investigation and responded to her own inquiry. Mrs. O'Loan has upheld two complaints from Mr. Brown's family — that the investigation into his death had not been efficiently carried out and that no earnest effort was made to identify those who carried out his murder.

On the basis of her findings that the RUC investigation was incomplete and inadequate, she has recommended that a full independent review should be carried out into the murder. The PSNI has agreed to a re-investigation of the case and to keep the Brown family fully informed of all developments.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have taken a personal interest in the family's efforts and have raised this issue on several occasions with the British Government. In pursuit of this, I raised the disturbing findings of the Ombudsman's report and my support for her key recommendation of a full independent review into the murder with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Paul Murphy, and with the PSNI Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Farmleigh House last Thursday.

The re-investigation of the Brown murder will be closely watched not only by the family but also by the public and the ombudsman herself. Seán Brown was an upstanding member of his community and a victim of sectarian evil. I share the family's hope that the new investigation will provide evidence to convict those responsible for the murder of their father and husband.