08 Aug 2022

Derry councillor brands Police Ombudsman 'toothless tiger with no credibility' after decision on PSNI's Facebook post about Tony Taylor

The Police Ombudsman’s decision to take no further action against an officer who used a PSNI Facebook account to comment on the live case of Derry Republican Tony Taylor has been described as “disgraceful”. Independent councillor for the Moor, Gary Donnelly, said the “ridiculous decision” comes as no surprise from an organisation that "sweeps human rights abuses under the carpet”. At the end of last year the Ombudsman’s Office confirmed to the Derry News that it had launched an investigation following numerous complaints made against a PSNI Facebook page which posted about the case of Derry Republican, Tony Taylor. On November 9 of last year, Mr Taylor was due to attend a parole hearing which was postponed.  On the same evening, the PSNI Craigavon Facebook page posted a lengthy statement in response to Irish Republican Prisoner News regarding Mr Taylor’s continued imprisonment. Part of it read: “If you have sympathy with those who talk about ‘internment in 2018’, ask yourself the questions; WHY did the license get revoked? WHY won't the convicted prisoner make those reasons public? “It's not for us or others to do so, it's for the prisoner to do. Their silence on the matter should tell you what you need to know. “There is of course a simple alternative to license. Serve the sentence in full first time. Would RSF (Republican Sinn Féin) prefer that? I'm sure a judge would be only too happy to grant the wish of, ‘Actually your worship, I'd much rather just do the full whack first time.’” The post was subsequently removed and the PSNI passed the matter on to the Ombudsman’s Office. Mr Taylor was detained in March 2016 after his early release licence was revoked by then secretary of state Theresa Villiers.  He was sentenced to eighteen years in jail in 1994 for IRA activity and again for three years in 2011 for possession of a rifle. No further charges were brought against him and he did not face trial but remained in Maghaberry prison for almost 1,000 days before his eventual release on November 27, 2018. At the weekend the Police Ombudsman said the investigation had concluded and it found the Facebook post was “neither prejudicial nor breached privacy”. The statement read in full: “We received a complaint which stated that the Facebook post had included a number of political comments and suggested that it had breached privacy. There has also been public comment that the post was prejudicial to the parole process. “We have considered these issues and concluded that the post was neither prejudicial nor breached privacy. It referred to information in the public domain while setting out the processes involved in the revocation of a licence.” ‘Public attack’ In response, Cllr Donnelly described the decision as “disgraceful but not unexpected” and questioned past decisions by the Ombudsman’s office. He commented: “For many in working class community this ridiculous decision is what we have come to expect from this office. The ombudsman’s office is a toothless tiger which has a track record of impotence. “Whether it’s investigating withholding information about mass murder or inquests, the use of child informers, the targeting of children of Republican activists in aggressive house raids or stop and searches by the PSNI, this office has no credibility.” He continued: “They operate safe in the knowledge that apart from some faux outrage near election time by constitutional Nationalism their ineffectiveness along with the human rights abuses will be brushed under the carpet so as not to upset the normalisation policy. “The facilitation of a public attack on Tony Taylor on social media by the PSNI while he was enduring a tribunal lacking the very basic tenants of justice is typical of what passes for so called policing and justice in this failed statelet.”

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