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Security forces colluded with UVF before World Cup '94 massacre, damning report finds

The Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland has said there was a “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil approach to the use of informants”.

Loughinisland pub shootings The Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co Down Source: PA Wire

Updated at 4.40pm

A DAMNING REPORT has found that significant collusion took place between security services and paramilitaries before a gun attack on a bar that saw six men shot dead.

On 18 June 1994, a group of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) members burst into the The Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co Down and opened fire on a group of people watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the USA ’94 World Cup.

Today, the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has published a report which has found that “collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders”.

To date, no one has ever been convicted in connection with the killings.

What does the report say? 

Since the attack, family members of those killed have maintained that there had been collusion between members of UVF and the Royal Ulster Constabulary – a view that has been today vindicated.

The 160-page report looks at information passed to police during the 1980s and 1990s from loyalist paramilitary sources, and highlights the police’s approach to informants as an area of particular concern.

“We have seen occasions when informants contributed to both the saving of life and the loss of life,” said Dr Maguire.

The investigation found evidence of the following:

  • Police officers content not to ask for information about serious crime,
  • Instances where such information was offered up and police chose not to act on it, 
  • Incidents where informants were protected from investigation.

“Some police officers appeared to have placed more value on gathering information and protecting their sources than on the prevention and detection of crime,” Dr Maguire went on.

“Many police officers within the RUC and the PSNI worked tirelessly to bring those responsible for the Loughinisland shootings to justice”, the report says, but also notes the fact that this doesn’t make up for “a number of fundamental failings in the investigation”.

Findings 

It is shown that one of the initial suspects for the crime was an RUC informant, and that the investigation into the getaway car and the people connected to it had been insufficient.

The last registered keeper of the car was a prominent member of the UDA, and the poor follow up is attributed to the “the relationship between this person and two police officers in particular”.

On the point of senior RUC officers failing to push UVF sources about the murder, Dr Maguire said:

I have found no evidence that sources were tasked with gathering specific information that could have assisted the murder investigation.
This was a ‘hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil’ approach to the use of informants, which potentially frustrated the police investigation.

Those killed in the attack were: Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Daniel McCreanor, 59, Patrick O’Hare, 35, Eamon Byrne, 39, and Barney Green, 87.

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A report in 2011 by former police ombudsman Al Hutchinson found that there had been a number of failings in the investigation, but insufficient evidence for collusion.

This was later overturned and the new investigation by Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire initiated.

In a statement today, Chief Constable of the PSNI George Hamilton said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland fully supports the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

It is an essential part of the mechanism by which the PSNI can be held to account and as such, I accept his report and findings into the brutal attack carried out at the Heights Bar, Loughinisland, on 18 June 1994.

‘Disturbing’ 

Foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan said the findings of the report were “deeply disturbing” adding:

“The findings must now be carefully examined with a view to the question of further investigations and possible prosecutions.”

The minister said:

“My thoughts are first and foremost with the families of the six victims of the terrible attack at Loughinisland, for whom today will be a very difficult reminder of their loss and pain.

The Ombudsman’s report fundamentally vindicates the concerns the families have raised over many years and their continuing search for justice.

Read: Ireland to mark Loughinisland massacre with black armbands in Italy game

Also: ESPN’s new documentary on Ireland’s politically-charged 94 World Cup journey looks brilliant

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