Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016: Republic of Ireland fans to honour Loughinisland victims during Belgium match

By Suzanne Breen

Supporters of the Republic of Ireland football team are planning to commemorate the Loughinisland massacre during a Euro 2016 match at the weekend.

Six minutes into the team's game against Belgium in Bordeaux on Saturday, fans will be asked to stand up in silence to mark the 22nd anniversary of the six men murdered in the Heights bar.

A poster which is circulating on social media says: "On 18th June at 14.06 during the Ireland v Belgium game, please stand up for the Loughinisland six, Irish football fans murdered on 18 June 1994 watching Ireland v Italy".

It is not yet known if the team will take any measures to commemorate Loughinisland.

For the 18th anniversary of the massacre, Ireland players wore black armbands for their group match against Italy in Poland at Euro 2012.

Speaking at the time, the Football Association of Ireland had said it was the right thing to do.

"What happened in Loughinisland was an awful tragedy and deeply moving for all football fans," a spokesman had said.

"Our players have a great understanding of history and they've always been respectful of tradition. They'll be very understanding of the difficult occasion and memories for the families."

The six victims were watching the 1994 World Cup Ireland versus Italy match in their village pub when two UVF gunmen, clad in boiler suits and balaclavas, burst into the premises and opened fire on them.

The men who died were Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (53), Barney Green (87), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O'Hare (35) and Eamon Byrne (39). Five other people in the bar were wounded.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, last week found there was collusion between the UVF murder gang and some RUC members.

"I have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders," he said.

At least one suspect involved in the attack was an informer.

During the investigation, vital evidence was either not secured or not preserved, including a car thought to have been used by the gang responsible for the massacre.

The murder gang responsible had been involved in previous killings but had avoided arrest because Special Branch had withheld information from other detectives investigating their crimes.

An assault rifle used in Loughinisland was part of a large shipment of South African weapons brought into Northern Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s.

The Loughinisland families are calling for those police officers who colluded with the UVF to be arrested and prosecuted.

They have said that the ombudsman's report cannot be left to "gather dust on a shelf".

The relatives' solicitor, Niall Murphy, said that Dr Maguire's findings showed "catastrophic and indefensible investigative failings which amount to a corruption of the criminal justice system".

Belfast Telegraph