Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Bereaved Loughinisland families must have closure

The aftermath of the Loughinisland shooting
The aftermath of the Loughinisland shooting

Editor's Viewpoint

Today marks the 25th anniversary of what has become known as the Loughinisland massacre - the murder of six people in the Heights Bar as they watched a World Cup football match. Another five people were injured.

This was one of the most high profile mass killings in Northern Ireland, being regularly in the headlines, not for the capture of those responsible, but for the inability of the police to bring anyone to justice for the killings.

Indeed, two journalists who collaborated on a film which named suspects in the murders are the only people to have spent any time in a cell on charges connected with the theft of materials from the Police Ombudsman office until, rightly, the courts decided that the warrants used to search the journalists' office and homes were inappropriate and proceedings against them were halted.

Like thousands of other bereaved families, the relatives of those killed at Loughinisland have campaigned ceaselessly for justice without, at this stage, any success. In that respect they are like so many other bereaved relatives, who hope against hope that one day they will find out the truth about their loved ones' deaths, who committed the murders and why and perhaps, although this is the longest shot of all, see those responsible brought to justice.

The Loughinisland families have seen two Police Ombudsmen reports on the killings - the first was widely discredited and said that there was no police collusion with the UVF gang which carried out the murders. The second one called the police investigation incompetent, indifferent and neglectful and unequivocally said that collusion was a feature of the murders.

Even though police had the names of suspects within days, recovered the getaway car, a murder weapon and clothes worn by the killers, they were unable to bring anyone before the courts.

These are not the only families who have long wondered why murderers were not brought before the courts. The phrase 'dirty war' has often been used to describe the 30 years of conflict that led to 3,600 deaths and it is undeniable that a lot of smoke and mirrors were used to protect the guilty, whose work as informers was seen as paramount, even on occasions more important than solving a crime which could have unmasked them. Meanwhile, the bereaved continue to fight against political indifference and obstruction for closure.

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From top left to bottom right, Patsy O’Hare, Barney Green, Adrian Rogan, Eamon Byrne, Daniel McCreanor and Malcom Jenkinson, who were killed in the tiny Heights Bar in Loughinisland (Loughinisland/PA)
From top left to bottom right, Patsy O’Hare, Barney Green, Adrian Rogan, Eamon Byrne, Daniel McCreanor and Malcom Jenkinson, who were killed in the tiny Heights Bar in Loughinisland (Loughinisland/PA)
Scenes from the aftermath of the atrocity
Eamon Byrne
Daniel McCreanor
Malcolm Jenkinson
Patrick O'Hare
Adrian Rogan
Barney Green
The Heights Bar in Loughinisland where the shootings took place
Massacre survivor Aiden O’Toole
Loughinisland shooting scene
The Heights Bar at Loughinisland in Co Down, pictured in 1994
Mourners attend the 20th anniversary of the Loughinisland massacre in 2014
Colin Smyth who survived the Loughinisland massacre
A memorial plaque to those killed at Loughinisland (Julien Behal/PA)

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