Families of six men murdered by loyalist gunmen in a Northern Ireland pub have hailed a watchdog investigation that exposed significant police collusion with the killers for finally delivering “the truth”.
Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire was damning in his assessment of the police role in the 1994 Ulster Volunteer Force massacre in Loughinisland, Co Down.
Two UVF gunmen burst into the packed bar on June 18 1994 and fired at customers watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup in the USA. Six were killed and five injured.
Dr Maguire found one man suspected of carrying out the mass killing in the Heights Bar was a police informant
The ombudsman also said the murder squad had been involved in a number of other killings in the years beforehand, but had avoided arrest because the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s Special Branch intelligence unit had withheld evidence from RUC detectives investigating the crimes.
He said some Special Branch officers had a “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” mindset that placed the collection of information above the detection of crime.
Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was killed, said: “Today we finally have a report by the Police Ombudsman that at last vindicates our long-held suspicions and belief that the truth about these murders was being covered up by the very people - the police - who were supposed to be protecting us, be on our side and investigate and bring to justice those responsible.”
Paddy McCreanor, nephew of victim Daniel McCreanor, said: “Collusion is no illusion and collusion happened. The truth has come out and that’s all we ever wanted.”
The families’ lawyer Niall Murphy said the scale of the collusion was “terrifying”.
“This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion in mass murder that has ever been published,” he said.
While the report was revealed in Belfast, former prime minister Sir John Major was elsewhere in Northern Ireland delivering a pro-European Union speech. Mr Murphy called on Sir John to apologise for the collusion that took place when he was in office.
The families also called on current Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to say sorry for referencing Loughinisland in a speech earlier this year about what she claimed was a “pernicious counter-narrative” of the Troubles that was trying to place undue blame on the security forces.
In his report’s conclusion, Dr Maguire said he had “no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders”.
No-one has ever been brought to justice for Loughinisland.