Loughinisland families pledge to continue fight for justice
Daughter of one of six victims says report ‘vindicated’ suspicions of collusion in murders
The Loughinisland families hold a press conference in the Ramada Hotel Belfast. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire speaking to the media at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast, following an investigation which found, security forces were guilty of significant collusion in the loyalist murders of six Catholic men gunned down while watching a World Cup football match. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire
The bereaved families of the Loughinisland massacre say they have truth but would like justice as they welcomed the new report into the 1994 attack which exposed state collusion.
At a press conference on Thursday folllowing the publication of the report by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire, Clara Reilly from the Relatives for Justice campaign group said the families should never have had to fight so hard to access information.
She said it was “time for accountability...truth and justice”.
“No more families should have to fight the system for the truth to be told,” she said.
Emma Rogan, daughter of Adrian Rogan, said it was a “day of mixed emotions for us all” but the report had “vindicated” their suspicions.
“One of those suspected of killing our loved ones continued to work for the RUC Special Branch long after the atrocity. How can this be?
“Theresa Villiers said that there was pernicious narratives being written about past atrocities and she referenced Loughinisland.
“Our journey has been a very difficult one and we have travelled all over the world and we have been well received and reported, however, many of us have been vilified here at home for daring to speak out and challenge the state line.
“But we have exposed collusion despite previous ombudsman’s report that sought to conceal the truth.
“We even had to go to court to have that overturned.
“That reference by Theresa Villiers is absolutely hurtful and was a deceitful attempt to rewrite the truth about what happened to our loved ones while she and her government knew fine well the truth about what happened in Loughinisland.
“We call on her to retract and apologise to us today.”
Ms Grogan said it was up to the British government to ensure there was full accountability. “We need justice and accountability from those in authority” she added.
Ms Casement also said the report published will “give hope and encouragement” to other grieving families campaigning for information about their loved ones conflict-related deaths. “Now it is time for justice and accountability,” she added.
‘A living nightmare’
Paddy McCreanor, nephew of Daniel McCreanor, described it as “a good day” for the campaign group and thanked Dr Maguire and the campaigners lawyer Niall Murphy.
“The truth has come out and that is all we ever wanted from day one,” he said.
He described the families’ journey for justice as “a living nightmare”.
Aidan O’Toole, who was injured on the Heights Bar, said devastation had been visited on too many people over the years and called for accountability now the truth had been uncovered by the police ombudsman report.
“We all deserve and demand justice from the British government who are ultimately responsible,” he said.
Niall Murphy from KRW solicitors said it was a privilege to represent the Loughinisland families, describing it as “one of the most humbling experiences of my life”.
“This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion and mass murder that has ever been published,” he said. “It joins an ever growing library of indictments from Stalker, Stevens, Corry, Saville, De Silva and Nuala O’Loan’s reports , but these reports cannot be left to sit on a shelf gathering dust. There must be accountability.”
Mr Murphy called on former British prime minister John Major, who is on a visit to Northern Ireland, to apologise to the families.
On whether he believed any future convictions might arise, he said the “opportunity for convictions would be difficult” as evidence had been lost and destroyed but there could be advances in forensics that could help.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said the latest revelations of collusion by the RUC with loyalist paramilitaries is “deeply disturbing”.
“There should be no impunity for human rights abuses and today’s Police Ombudsman’s report is a welcome step on the road to full accountability,” he said.
“Amnesty International has had long-standing concerns over collusion and the practice of running informants by the security forces and paramilitary groups. These have been heightened by the government’s decades-long failure to properly investigate allegations in cases such as Loughinisland and the arms trafficking operation which supplied the weapons for this and at least 70 murders and attempted murders.
“The Ombudsman’s inclusive approach to the definition of ‘collusion’, which other inquiries have in the past sought to narrow, helps open the road to proper accountability.
“As many football fans prepare for Euro 2016, the sad reminder of the bloodshed in Loughinisland during the 1994 World Cup should serve to ensure that there is no further delay in agreeing human rights compliant mechanisms to investigate all outstanding deaths from the Troubles era.