‘Do the best you can’ Police Ombudsman tells pupils

Published Date: 17.11.2000

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Mrs. Nuala O'Loan has told pupils at St. Joseph’s High School in Plumbridge , that they must all try to use their skills, whatever they may be, in the best way possible.

Mrs. O’Loan, who is head of the new independent, impartial police complaints service in Northern Ireland, was guest of honour at the schools prize giving on Wednesday evening (November 15.)

The Police Ombudsman began her speech by recalling an earlier visit to the school and went on to pay tribute to the different achievements of the pupils, including those who had not missed a day at school during the year:

“ I have five boys and I was always really glad when they managed that. Part of that achievement is the good fortune of having good health, but the other part is having the sheer determination to get up and go on days when you maybe don’t feel a hundred per cent, not giving in when you could say I don’t feel well.

"Parents play a big part too in getting you to school on those days, I know that. They too are to be congratulated for showing you and encouraging you to understand that it’s important not to give in but always to try and keep going. That way you get stronger and more determined. So well done.”

Mrs. O’Loan stressed to the students that, although they were present for prize distribution, winning prizes was not the most important aspect of life:

Live from day to day as best you can.

“Life is about living from day to day as best you can, and if you do that the prizes, in many different forms, will come your way. The important thing to remember is that you don’t always have to know what you are going to do.

"I never knew that I would one day be Police Ombudsman. For years and years I worked very hard, and really what motivated me was a need to do all I could to see that justice was done. I trained as a lawyer, I worked in advice centres, and trained as a counsellor so that I could at least be there for people. I very quickly realized that no matter how much I gave to others I always got more back from them than I gave. That is humbling.”

Mrs. O’Loan told those present about her work and the new system of police complaints, including the powers her investigation teams have:

“It is part of the new beginning in policing and already we are investigating scores of complaints. If necessary we can get warrants and arrest police officers against whom there is evidence.

Office will use the best modern investigative techniques.

"At the same time we must always act with justice and integrity – people are always innocent until they are proved guilty. We will use the best modern investigative techniques to do the job. It is a first in the world and I am very conscious of the responsibility which this puts on me and my staff, and you know, I am also very honoured that I was chosen to do this work.”

Mrs. 0’Loan finished her talk with a message of hope for the pupils: “We are all given skills, sometimes not the skills we want, but we do all have skills and what we must try and do is to use those skills everyday in the best way possible,” she said.

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