Police Ombudsman postpones Loughinisland murders report

 

THE POLICE Ombudsman Al Hutchinson has postponed publishing a report on the police investigation of the UVF killings of six people in Loughinisland, Co Down, despite reported interim findings which are critical of the police.

Mr Hutchinson was due to travel to Loughinisland on Tuesday to issue the relatives of the victims with his final report but has now called off that plan because he must examine more elements of the case, his office confirmed last night.

The extra investigation relates to new matters raised with the ombudsman’s investigators by the police, it is understood.

Six Catholic men were shot dead by the UVF in the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in 1994 as they were watching the Ireland versus Italy World Cup game on television. No one has been convicted over the killings.

The families asked the Police Ombudsman to investigate, concerned that there was RUC collusion in the murders, their solicitor Niall Murphy told UTV last night.

“The getaway car was left abandoned and was recovered intact. A bag was found in the car. The bag contained the guns that were used in the atrocity,” said Mr Murphy.

“There were balaclavas found, there were gloves found, there were boiler suits found and none of those items were subjected to the advances in forensic science up until a complaint was made by the families. The car itself was incredibly wilfully destroyed by police in 1996.” he added.

UTV reported that it understood that the ombudsman’s initial findings were that there were a series of major failings including that not enough effort was made to identify those who carried out the atrocity. It also understood that the ombudsman found that police failed to speak to people of interest, that key evidence was destroyed and that there was poor record management.

“It’s been an appalling series of events that have masqueraded as an investigation. There were quotes made such as no stone will be left unturned but the families fear that no stone was turned over,” said Mr Murphy.

Local SDLP politician Eamon O’Neill said there should be a public inquiry.

Sinn Féin MLA for South Down Caitríona Ruane said a number of very serious questions remain unanswered about the UVF killings. “Most worryingly it appears they would have remained unanswered unless the families had put the necessary pressure for a full investigation into the atrocity,” she said.