Irish football team to mark 1994 Loughinisland atrocity
The Irish football team will mark the 18th anniversary of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, during their Euro 2012 match against Italy.
Six Catholic men were shot dead by loyalists at a pub in Loughinisland, County Down, on 18 June 1994.
The victims were watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup.
The Irish players will wear black arm bands in memory of the football fans who were killed watching the same teams on the same day 18 years ago.
Republic of Ireland player Robbie Keane said: "I think it's only right that we do wear the arm bands out of respect for everyone's families and to let them know as a team, and as a nation, we're thinking of the families."
UEFA agreed to the commemoration last month after the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) made the request on behalf of the victims' families.
Their loved ones were killed when two member of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) walked into the Heights Bar during the match and began shooting indiscriminately.Allegations
All of the dead were Catholic civilians and the attack is remembered as one of the worst sectarian atrocities to take place during decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
Aidan O'Toole was working behind the bar on the night of the attack. He said the victims' relatives were overjoyed to hear that the Republic of Ireland players were wearing black arm bands to commemorate the anniversary of the attack.
"It'll be sad but we are happy in a way its been 18 years but we have be trying to live on. It is a fitting tribute to the six people who lost their lives. It is nice to know we haven't been forgotten about."
He added the support of people living in the area has helped.
"This wasn't a strictly catholic bar this was a mixed bar. The support we got from both sections of the community was unbelievable."
In the years since the Loughinisland massacre, sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the attack but no-one has been convicted and there have been allegations of collusion between the UVF gang and the police.
Last June, a police ombudsman's report into the killings concluded that the police failed to properly investigate the loyalist attack but it found insufficient evidence of security force collusion.
The Loughinisland families have rejected the findings of the report and have mounted a legal challenge to have Al Hutchinson's findings quashed.
The six men who died in shooting were Adrian Rogan, 34, Patrick O'Hare, 35, Eamon Byrne, 39, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Daniel McCreanor 59, and Barney Greene, 87.
Mr Greene was one of the oldest people to be killed in the Northern Ireland Troubles.
The pensioner was related to the former SDLP leader and current South Down MP Margaret Ritchie.