Irish Republican News · June 24, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Families angered by new Loughinisland cover-up
Families angered by new Loughinisland cover-up

The families of the men murdered by the unionist paramilitary UVF in a 1994 massacre in Loughinisland, County Down have vehemently rejected an investigation by the PSNI Police Ombudsman into the killings.

Al Hutchinson’s report refused to blame the attack on collusion, and said that the original police investigation had merely failed the families of those killed and injured.

The report admitted the getaway car was destroyed by the RUC police, (later the PSNI). But it said only the RUC investigation was “lacking effective leadership and diligence”. It said that records were “lost” and “opportunities were missed”.

Six Catholic men, one of them aged 87, died when loyalist gunmen sprayed the Heights Bar in the County Down village with 200 bullets in 1994.

The shootings at the Heights Bar happened as supporters watched the Irish soccer team play Italy during the World Cup.

The six men who died were Adrian Rogan 34; Malcolm Jenkinson, 53; Barney Greene, 87; Daniel McCreanor 59; Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39.

At least one British double agent was linked to the murder gang. An RUC Special Branch informer inside the UVF, codenamed ‘Mechanic’, had supplied the car used in the shooting, which was subsequently destroyed by the RUC.

Patrick McCreanor, a nephew of Dan McCreanor said: “How long will we keep on hearing the same old story. How many times can evidence go missing from police custody?”

Maura Casement, a niece of Barney Greene said that the ombudsman refused to investigate a link between admitted British Army agent Brian Nelson and the murder weapon.

The ombudsman’s report also made no mention at all of RUC’s undercover Special Branch, who are believed to have worked with at least one member of the murder gang.

Aidan O’Toole who was a barman on the night of the murders said the report raised “serious inconsistencies”.

“In some cases, police did not even bother to take fingerprints or DNA,” he said.

“The RUC and the PSNI could not even identify one of the killers even though he left a hair behind.”

Emma Rogan’s father Adrian was one of those killed.

“For 11 years after the murder of our loved ones, police did not even have the focus and strategy to keep us informed,” she said.

A solicitor representing the families of those killed also hit out at the report’s findings describing them as “unacceptable”.

“The families consider that Al Hutchinson has performed factual gymnastics to avoid a conclusion”, Niall Murphy said

“The families fear it is a case of see no evil, hear no evil, and report no evil by Mr Hutchinson”, he added.

RESIGNATION DEMANDED

The SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has called for the Police Ombudsman to resign following his report.

His findings were contrary “to a mountain of evidence of collusion”, she said.

“After a very long wait the ombudsman’s report has come up short on Loughinisland. It completely lets down the victims’ families and the wider community.

“Al Hutchinson paints a picture of an incompetent keystone cops type of police force when the reality was that the RUC and Special Branch were rotten to the core.

“The ombudsman has done a great disservice to the families of those murdered, as he has done to other groups of victims.

“It is now time for him to go. The office of the Police Ombudsman is vitally important to confidence in policing and justice in the north and Mr Hutchinson has repeatedly failed to measure up.”

The South Down MP said the definition of collusion as set out by Judge Cory “involves the area of commission or omission, and in this case there has been omission by the then RUC”, Ms Richie said.

“He seems to think that the failure of the RUC investigators to co-operate, the systematic destruction of evidence such as the car, the systematic failure to follow leads and even the failure to carry out forensics was incompetence - to me and to the families that mounts to collusion.

“I think it is time to provide confidence and leadership in the police Ombudsman’s office, he should do the right thing and resign”, she added.

Despite several arrests, no-one has ever been convicted of these murders.

Local Sinn Fein Assembly member Caitriona Ruane said the report marked the beginning of a new phase in the relatives’ campaign for truth.

“If ever there was a case which demonstrated collusion it is the murders at Loughinisland,” she said.

“That is the only conclusion which can be reached, even from the information put in the public domain today by the ombudsman.

“His failure to reach that very obvious conclusion on the basis of the evidence in front of him is a matter which he needs to explain.”

© 2011 Irish Republican News