Baroness Nuala O’Loan has taken to the media to voice her assertions that there was sufficient police intelligence that could have prevented the Real IRA attack on Omagh in 1998, without providing a shred of evidence to back them up.
That makes her contribution of questionable value.
Worse than that, she has chosen the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist atrocity in the history of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ to contradict her own findings when she was police ombudsman.
Her intervention on a solemn day of commemoration, when relatives take time to remember their loved ones, is insensitive.
I have no idea why she was moved to comment publicly on Wednesday, but her contribution will serve to open wounds and re-traumatise good people.
If Baroness O’Loan has anything new to offer by way of evidence, she should pass it to the PSNI.
Omagh is an unsolved crime and I know there are experienced officers who are only too willing to explore new leads and who want to deliver closure to those who have suffered grievously through the actions of murderous republican dissidents.
This brings into sharp focus the debate that is going on around legacy and how to deal with the past.
We have concerns about how comment — ill-informed or unsubstantiated — can pollute the narrative on often dreadful events.
As we have seen, it is easy to sully and call into question the good name of officers who worked the Omagh case, and many others.
I have no doubt they did their best.
Many very dedicated and professional Officers will feel angry and upset by the comments of Baroness O’Loan who failed to deliver one iota of proof.
Just because something is said doesn’t mean that the contribution should be taken at face value or treated as fact.
Baroness O’Loan should know the value of evidence and fact in law.”
• Mark Lindsay is chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland