A Mid Ulster DUP Policing Board Member and MLA has revealed that Gardai are working with PSNI detectives in the hunt for Damien McLaughlin, a suspect in the murder of prison officer David Black.
McLaughlin, 40, of Kilmascally Road near Ardboe, was due to stand trial next month on charges that include aiding and abetting his murder.
Keith Buchanan revealed the latest police efforts after meeting with a PSNI delegation to discuss ongoing concerns about breaches of bail conditions by suspects in terrorist cases.
Accompanied by Nelson McCausland, the Mid Ulster MLA met with Chief Constable George Hamilton, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin and Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray earlier today (Friday).
Speaking after the meeting he said, “There is a great deal of public concern about incidents where individuals suspected of involvement in serious terrorist crimes are found to be in breach of their bail conditions. I want to thank the Chief Constable for facilitating this meeting at short notice and for the frank discussion we were able to have about the issues.
“Firstly it must be stated that the police are forced to deal with the bail conditions granted by the judiciary. It must not be forgotten that suspects across the rest of the United Kingdom accused of such a serious crime would not be granted bail. The granting of bail simply would not be considered in equivalent cases within Great Britain, but despite repeated breaches it is still happening in Northern Ireland.
“Whilst we recognise the difficulties faced by police, questions still remain as to why action was not taken more quickly when it became clear that Damien McLaughlin had not reported to a police station. I was pleased to hear efforts being made to track down this individual, and particularly that there has been co-operation with the Gardai given the obvious suspicion that he may have crossed the border.
“It is important this issue is investigated by the Police Ombudsman, and the fact it has been ‘called in’ without a complaint being made underlies the seriousness of the case. Whilst this investigation will not impact the root cause of the problem in whether bail is granted it will identify any failures in how the police have handled the case.”
The Mid Ulster MLA continued, “We will continue to pursue this issue at all levels until we see a change in how these cases are approached. We will continue to press both the police and the Public Prosecution Service about their actions. The public, and in particular the families of those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists deserve to know that proper action is being taken to bring those responsible for such serious crimes to justice, and to keep the public safe.”