Legal move in Loughinisland court case

The Heights bar, Loughinisland The shootings happened at The Heights bar in Loughinisland

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The families of six men murdered in the Loughinisland massacre have cleared the first stage in their High Court challenge to the Police Ombudsman's report into the killings.

The report found insufficient evidence of security force collusion in the 1994 attack by loyalists.

Victims' relatives are seeking to have Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's findings' quashed.

Lawyers for the families claim the conclusions reached are flawed.

However, before being able to argue their case fully, they are contesting a decision to refuse legal aid for their challenge.

A judge granted permission to seek a judicial review of the funding denial after no opposition was raised.

A full hearing on that preliminary issue will now take place in June.

Once that is decided the main challenge to the ombudsman's report is expected to follow.

The six murder victims, all Catholics, were killed when UVF gunmen went into the Heights Bar in County Down and opened fire indiscriminately as customers watched the Republic of Ireland play Italy in a World Cup match.

Investigation

Those shot dead included 87-year-old Barney Greene, one of the oldest victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Also killed were Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Daniel McCreanor, 59, Patrick O'Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39. Five others were seriously wounded.

No-one has been convicted of the murders, although 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

In June last year, Mr Hutchinson found there was not enough evidence of collusion between police and the loyalist gang.

However, he did identify failings in the investigation, criticising it for a lack of diligence, focus and leadership.

The legal challenge into his report will focus on a Criminal Justice Inspectorate review of Troubles-related investigations.

The main judicial review is not thought to be completely dependent on the outcome of the legal aid case, and proceedings are expected to come before the court sometime later this year.

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