Loughinisland report: families devastated by findings

Loughinisland

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The solicitor for the families of the six men killed in the Loughinisland massacre has said they are devastated by the findings of the report into the police investigation.

Niall Murphy said the families believed the report proved police colluded with those involved and that the RUC made "no real attempt to catch the killers".

The ombudsman's report found that there were failings in the investigation.

However there was insufficient evidence of collusion.

Mr Murphy described the findings of the report as "timid, mild and meek".

"The ombudsman has performed factual gymnastics to ensure there was no evidence of collusion in his conclusion," he said.

The six men who died in the pub were Adrian Rogan 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Barney Greene, 87, Daniel McCreanor 59, Patrick O'Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39. All were Catholic civilians.

Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the attack but no-one has ever been convicted.

Relatives of those who died claimed the security forces colluded with the UVF gang behind the attack on the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in County Down.

Mr Murphy said the publishing of the report had given the families "no sense of satisfaction".

"They know more today then they did and are appreciative of those in the ombudsman's office that carried out the investigation," he said.

"But they cannot reconcile the evidence contained in the report and its conclusion."

The relatives of the victims believe the police's investigation was impeded by its desire to protect its informers within the ranks of the UVF.

One of their main concerns over police enquiries related to the getaway car. They argue evidence was not pursued rigorously due to the involvement of a police informant in its chain of ownership.

They made a formal complaint to the office of the Police Ombudsman in 2006.

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said police had investigated the case "as an honest endeavour".

"There is a sense of frustration that we haven't brought the killers to justice for the horrendous crime and we recognise there has been a breakdown of trust between us and the families and we are completely committed to rebuild that," he said.

"The ombudsman said there was no collusion and we are pleased about that and we are keen to re-establish a relationship with the families.

"We want them to have confidence in the work we are doing and we have issued a case review into how it was handled."

But Mr Murphy said saying the police had done all they could was a "dishonest remark".

"There has been an irrevocable breakdown of trust that can only be restored by results," he said.

"I have had a private briefing and heard what evidence is available, I have been involved in cases where people have been charged with less evidence.

"I hope and expect that people will be charged soon."

ACC Harris said progress had been made in terms of the investigation.

"The forensic evidence we have and the way we look at it has improved, but there is still insufficient evidence to charge anyone but that is why we are appealing for people to come forward," he said.

"Someone must know something, people who may have had reason to protect others in 1994 may not still have the same loyalties to them now."

Mr Murphy said he is currently going through the full details of the report.

"I will be working with the families on a legal strategy to move forward."

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