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In defence of the police over Loughinisland

As a former senior police officer (with direct involvement in the investigation) I write to express my sympathy with the victims and survivors of the 1994 Loughinisland massacre. For many officers it's a great regret that justice has not been done in terms of convictions. But if evidence is not available or is insufficient to meet the standards required by the courts, the police cannot conjure it up.

I'm also dismayed that many who claim to represent the families are, in fact, misrepresenting them and the facts. I listened with incredulity to these representatives claim the police appeals for help on the 20th anniversary was a cynical ploy and that police had "set about destroying evidence".

Very significant effort was made by police to secure evidence. The getaway car was taken to the forensic science laboratory for exhaustive tests. The retention of those forensic exhibits and others, including on the murder weapons led to further tests conducted 10 years later with new forensic science techniques. Yes, the car was subsequently destroyed, but by then the vehicle was of no value as all the forensic exhibits were, as I've said, retained. Relying on the destruction of the car to claim malfeasance is a red herring.

Other claims of informers being protected are easy to make and difficult to disprove. The police cannot explain or deny so as to protect us all, which gives those who wish to feed the conspiracy theories free reign. There is no evidence of anyone being protected.

Facts are spun and inconvenient facts ignored, while the integrity of police officers has been unfairly besmirched and goes undefended. Above all, I hope victims and survivors get a considered truth and, if possible, justice.


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