The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, has this afternoon expressed deep concern over the late disclosure of new material pertaining to the Police Ombudsman's investigations into a series of loyalist murders in the late 1980s and early 1990s including that of the late Eddie Fullerton in Buncrana.
"The Government is very concerned by the announcement by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland on 14 February of the receipt of significant new material from the PSNI," said Deputy Coveney.
"The ombudsman has indicated that the discovery of the new material will delay the publication of his report into events connected to the actions of loyalist paramilitaries in the north west between 1988 and 1994.
"My thoughts are first and foremost with all the families affected, including the family of Councillor Eddie Fullerton who was brutally murdered by the UDA in Buncrana in 1991, the five families who lost loved ones in the Ormeau Road attack in 1992 and the family of a teenager, Damien Walsh, who was murdered in west Belfast in 1993," he added.
Sinn Féin T.D. Seán Crowe said: "Eddie Fullerton was a friend of mine and I know his family. I know they have been informed that the ombudsman's report will be delayed.
"It is important to use clear and precise language. There was some suggestion that the PSNI had discovered new information. That is incorrect; it had this information and it is not new.
"Crucially it was withheld form the ombudsman's office. The ombudsman released a statement stating that the police did not disclose sensitive information. He did not release one stating that the police found new information. There is a significant difference here and it undermines the role of the PSNI in this.
"The information directly impacts not only on those who were killed in the Ormeau Road bookies but also in several other related killings in south Belfast and 19 other UDA sectarian murders in south Derry and north Antrim in the early 1980s. I do not think it is an isolated incident of withholding information and the concern is that it undermines confidence in the PSNI."