Northern Ireland

Loughinisland: Police ombudsman to rule on collusion claims

The six men who died when UVF gunmen attacked the Heights Bar in Loughinisland
Image caption The six men who died: (From top left) Adrian Rogan, Barney Greene, Dan McGreanor, (from bottom left) Eamon Byrne, Malcolm Jenkinson and Patsy O'Hare

The police ombudsman is to rule on allegations of collusion between police and a loyalist gang that killed six Catholics 22 years ago.

The men were watching a World Cup game in June 1994 when gunmen burst into the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down, and opened fire.

Five others were wounded in the attack carried out by the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force.

No-one has ever been convicted of the attack.

Families of the victims have persistently accused the police of failing to properly investigate the killings, claiming they wanted to protect informers.

They have alleged there was collusion between some police officers and those who carried out the attack.

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

Mr Greene was one of the oldest people to be killed in the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The attack in Loughinisland took place on 18 June 1994 at the Heights Bar

Five years ago the previous police ombudsman, Al Hutchinson, published a report which said the police had not properly investigated the killings.

But his report said there was insufficient evidence of collusion between the police and the Ulster Volunteer Force.

The families took legal action and in December 2012 the report's findings were quashed.

Mr Hutchinson resigned shortly afterwards and his successor, Dr Michael Maguire, re-opened the investigation.

The families and their lawyers were briefed about the findings in Loughinisland on Wednesday.

Dr Maguire's report will contain thousands of words, but for the families of those killed and seriously injured in the Heights Bar, the focus will be on whether he uses just one word - collusion.

South Down MP, the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie, told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme: "We want to see Dr Maguire call it for what it is. It is collusion.

""But we also want him to say quite clearly, who did it, how many were involved in it, was there local involvement in this heinous crime?"

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