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Release report now, mother of slain teen tells police watchdog

COLLUSION: Jennifer McCann, Paul Butler, John McGuinness and Cllr Stephen Magennis with Peter and Marian Walsh COLLUSION: Jennifer McCann, Paul Butler, John McGuinness and Cllr Stephen Magennis with Peter and Marian Walsh
By Michael Jackson

THE mother of a West Belfast teenager who was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries while British soldiers looked on says the Police Ombudsman should release the report into his death, despite the discovery of further undisclosed police documentation.
17-year-old Damien Walsh was murdered by the UDA/UFF at the Dairy Farm shopping centre on March 25, 1993.
New material that could relate to the case was found during PSNI searches of its Troubles archives.
The Ombudsman is also preparing a report on the 1992 Sean Graham bookmakers attack and further information on that atrocity has now also been recovered by police.
Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said he realised “how frustrating and upsetting” the discovery was for the families involved.
Police claim the find of previously undisclosed material coincided with a recent IT upgrade.
In February, the PSNI apologised and said it would be reviewing its IT systems for disclosing information after it emerged that covert files relating to legacy civil cases had not been shared with the Police Ombudsman.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Damien’s mother, Marian Walsh, insisted that the state was “playing for time” and said the Police Ombudsman should release the report on his murder regardless.
“I’m baffled by the whole thing,”she said.
“Our particular case has been going on since 2004 when I first went to the Ombudsman, which was Nuala O’Loan, so this is the fourth Ombudsman that I’m dealing with. I have been set back so many times over the past almost 16 years – it’ll be 16 years in January. They keep putting it back and putting it back.I was told the report was ready when Al Hutchinson was the Ombudsman. I asked him for it face to face and he just said no. It was taken up by the next Ombudsman, Michael Maguire, and I put all my trust in him, but it was just dashed. His time was up and he had to go when all this other information was coming forward. The way I look at it, there’s always going to be information like that coming forward over the years. Are they going to keep on pushing it back then? They’re just playing for time.”
She continued: “It has had a really impact on my health. When they refused to give me the report I suffered a stroke a day later and it was all through the annoyance of it all – my blood pressure would go up and all kinds of things would happen to me physically and mentally. Things like this must be happening to all the relatives. The authorities are hoping that we’ll die premature deaths and that we’ll never get these reports.
“In Damien’s case I just want the report now. If there’s anything they want to add to it later then they can add to it. I don’t think it will make much difference – we already know there was collusion. The HET report has already told us that British soldiers watched Damien being murdered.”

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