Wednesday, 9 December 2009
So – Ronnie Flnagan’s reputation is ‘in tatters’, according to Barra McGrory QC, who’s acting on behalf of the Hamill family. McGrory says the former RUC chief constable lied to the inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill, who was kicked to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997, and allegedly told a senior civil servant that Mr Hamill’s death could have been caused by his family cradling his head and so cutting off his oxygen. Oh, and he’s also alleged to have said that Hamill’s sister was on a trip to discredit the RUC when she demanded the truth about her brother's death.
The way I see it, if you say something is in tatters, you imply there was a time when it was in undisputed good nick, elegant even. Maybe there was a time when Ronnie had that sort of reputation but I don’t go back that far. This is a man who in 1995 denied that there was collusion between police and loyalists during the infamous Burntollet ambush. He’s a man who was Duty Inspector at the Castlereagh interrogation centre, where (if we're to believe reports) prisoners were routinely stripped, beaten and deprived of sleep. This is the man who was in charge of the Headquarters Mobile Support Units, a shoot-to-kill section of the Special Branch which a lot of people blame for a lot of unnecessary deaths. This is the man who is alleged to have given the Garvaghy Road residents an assurance that there would be no Orange march down their road in 1996 if a token march was allowed in 1995. The residents agreed; in 1996 a march was forced down Garvaghy Road. This is a man whose attitude to human rights groups, especially those who criticize the RUC, is less than positive.
And of course this is the man who was interviewed by Jim McDowell, editor of Sunday Life, as part of a TV series called ‘Straight Up’. McDowell spent the interview apparently trying to enter an orifice of Flanagan's other than his ear, avoiding any remotely hard questions and opting for a cosy, chuckly chat about rugby.
So no, I don’t think Ronnie’s credibility is in tatters; in my book it continues to bump along the bottom of a very murky,very smelly pond.