17 March 2006

Dad's fury at PUP's police role

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge
17 March 2006

The devastated father of a UVF murder victim today described how he felt "sick to his stomach" when a PUP representative was appointed to Northern Ireland's Policing Board.

Co Antrim man John Allen spoke of his fury that the loyalist party which is linked to a terror group would now have a role in holding to account the police force investigating his son's death.

But the PUP chairperson Dawn Purvis - who was appointed as an independent Policing Board member on Monday - said she would be prepared to meet Mr Allen to assure him that she did not know who killed his son.

Thirty-one-year-old John Allen Jnr was shot in the back of the head by the UVF in Ballyclare in November 2003. Nobody has ever been charged with his murder.

His father told the Belfast Telegraph: "This has been an awful week. The Government has appointed an unelected representative whose party is linked to the UVF to tell the police what to do. I cannot understand how unionist politicians could go along with this farce.

"I am now supposed to pay taxes to support this Policing Board. When I heard about this I was left sick to my stomach.

"If the party wants to be taken seriously then they should break their link with the UVF. Only then can they think about going onto the Policing Board.

"I heard Dawn Purvis saying that if she knew anyone who was involved in a crime then she would report it to the police. I challenge her to come out publicly and say that she will support the police investigation into my son's death."

Mr Allen added: "There is not a day goes past that I do not think about John.

"I was in Ballyclare a few weeks ago and I saw the man who murdered him walking about laughing. He is walking about the streets with complete impunity.

"By making this appointment the Government have shown contempt towards victims. It is a slap in the face for me and other people in the same position."

Asked about Mr Allen's comments, Dawn Purvis said: "First of all I would like to say my heart goes out to Mr Allen but I know absolutely nothing about his son's murder and I would never disrupt any police investigation.

"While I understand his anger and frustration I do not understand what it has got to do with my appointment. I have never been involved with paramilitaries and I am a member of the PUP, not the UVF.

"I was appointed as an independent member by the Secretary of State and I had as much right to apply as anybody else.

"I have no problem with meeting Mr Allen and talking to him face to face. I could not even begin to comprehend what he has had to go through in losing his son.

"However, if Mr Allen thinks the PUP has information about who killed his son then that is something he should pass on to the police."

She added: "The new Policing Board represents a healthy cross-section of society and I am looking forward to beginning work on it."

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