Loughinisland ruling ignites legal tussle


Unionists are seeking to quash findings of collusion between the RUC police and unionist paramilitaries in up to six Police Ombudsman reports following a surprise court judgment before Christmas.

A judge claimed that Ombudsman Michael Maguire went beyond his statutory powers in reaching conclusions about collusion on the Loughinisland massacre.

Two retired RUC men had challenged a report last June over the 1994 murder of six people at the Heights Bar by the paramilitary UVF in which the ombudsman concluded that “collusion was a significant feature”.

However, Mr Justice McCloskey (pictured) ruled that the RUC men were subjected to “destructive and withering condemnations” in the report without due process.

The ruling came as a blow to the victims of the massacre.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was murdered in the Heights Bar, said that last Christmas was the first where they felt that “the truth had been set free and allowed to breath”.

“This judgment, which has been delivered four days prior to Christmas Day, has devastated us all,” she said. “We feel that the truth has again been suffocated. We will study this judgment over Christmas and renew our efforts to defend the inconvenient truth, in the New Year”

Niall Murphy, lawyer for the families of those bereaved, said the case had been premised entirely on procedural grounds. He noted that the two RUC men had not challenged a single fact contained in the Police Ombudsman’s report.

“The facts therefore remain as facts,” he said, and pointed to the weight of evidence to support the allegations of collusion.

DUP MP Ian Paisley called on the British government to “move to set false accusations aside” in six reports by the Ombusdman’s office./

Among the reports is the 2007 Operation Ballast findings by Nuala O’Loan into the activities of the north Belfast UVF and the killing of Raymond McCord junior.

The former ombudsman spent three and a half years investigating the 1997 murder of the 22-year-old and a series of related killings and concluded there was collusion. Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologised to the family of Mr McCord.

Raymond McCord senior said Ian Paisley’s response does not take into account that the findings were accepted by the British government.

“All the evidence of collusion in my son’s case is there, it has been well documented, there is no other name for it other than collusion and instead of seeking justice for victims, Ian Paisley is seeking to overturn important rulings and investigations.”

Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly defended Dr Maguire, saying his work “is crucial to current policing and indeed in legacy cases.”

He said the Loughinisland judgment must be appealed “as it has possibly catastrophic implications for the setting up of the investigative process of the Historic Investigations Unit”.

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