Patrick Corrigan (Belfast, Amnesty NI): Ten years on from the landmark Patten report on policing in Northern Ireland, authored by former Conservative minister and Hong Kong governor general Chris Patten, this Saturday the SDLP are to stage a half-day conference on "policing and it's oversight at times of threat".
The event could hardly be more timely, coming as it does in the week that:
- the extended detention (under the Terrorism Act 2006) of six terrorist suspects by the PSNI was overturned by Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr;
- complaints were aired by the NI Human Rights Commission about the conditions for detention at Antrim PSNI station where the murder suspects were being held;
- further allegations of police neglect were made during the inquiry into the killing of Robert Hamill;
- saw the conclusion of a civil case (bar the judgement - expected in June) brought by families of the victims of the Omagh bombing in the absence of successful criminal cases, which at least some of the family members believe is a direct result of a botched investigation;
- BBC Panorama journalist John Ware appeared before the NI Affairs Committee to give a stout defence of his claims that the intelligence services failed to share vital intercept information with the police before and after the Omagh bombing.
This last claim, that the intelligence services failed to cooperate with the PSNI, is all the more worrying now that MI5 has assumed responsibility for national security in Northern Ireland. It recently issued a police-style appeal for information to assist in the investigation of the killings of members of the security forces.
John Ware, Michael Gallagher of the Omagh families and Nuala O'Loan, former Police Ombudsman, will be among the speakers at the event. More details below.
POLICING AND ITS OVERSIGHT AT TIMES OF THREAT
Saturday 28 March 2009 - St Mary's University College, Falls Road, Belfast
10.00am CONFERENCE OPENING
Alban Maginness MLA - "Patten, Policing and Responding to Threat"
10.05am THE OMAGH BOMBING, THE PANORAMA PROGRAMME AND THE NEEDS OF VICTIMS
John Ware - Presenter "Panorama" (including the Omagh Bomb Programme) / Senior BBC Current Affairs journalist
Michael Gallagher, father of Omagh Bomb victim / campaigner for truth around the Omagh bomb
Q&A / Chair: Alban Maginness MLA
11.05am POLICING AND OVERSIGHT AT TIMES OF THREAT - HOW TO RESPOND
Dame Nuala O'Loan, former NI Police Ombudsman, Irish Government Special Envoy to East Timor, Irish UN Special Representative on Women and Peace-building
Professor Colin Harvey, Head School of Law. Queen's University Belfast.
Q&A / Chair: Margaret Ritchie MLA
12.05pm GATHERING INTELLIGENCE - THE STORY SO FAR
Barney Rowan - former Chief Security Correspondent BBC, senior Belfast Telegraph journalist
Brendan Duddy - Derry businessman, contact between the British Government/Security Service and Republicans
John Ware - presenter on a range of investigative programmes on Northern Ireland
Q&A / Chair: Dolores Kelly MLA
12.55pm SEMINAR CLOSE Dolores Kelly MLA
1.00pm FINGER BUFFET - Launch of Patten 10th Anniversary Events - Mark Durkan, MP, MLA
For further information contact Cllr Tim Attwood, Tel: 02890 807808
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