Northern Ireland

Loughinisland families 'shocked' at ombudsman findings

Loughinisland Image copyright bbc
Image caption People in the pub were watching football when two UVF men walked in and began firing

The families of six men murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1994 have said they are "shocked" at a police ombudsman's report into the killings.

Emma Rogan's father Adrian was one of those shot by the UVF at the Heights Bar, Loughinisland.

"For 11 years after the murder of our loved ones, police did not even have the focus and strategy to keep us informed, " she said.

The families' solicitor described the report as "timid, mild and meek".

Niall Murphy said the families believed the report proved police colluded with those involved and that the RUC made "no real attempt to catch the killers".

The ombudsman's report found that there were failings in the investigation. However there was insufficient evidence of collusion.

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

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

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Aidan O'Toole who was a barman on the night of the murders said the report raised "serious inconsistencies".

"In some cases, police did not even bother to take fingerprints or DNA," he said.

"The RUC and the PSNI could not even identify one of the killers even though he left a hair behind."

Patrick McCreanor, a nephew of Dan McCreanor said: "How long will we keep on hearing the same old story. How many times can evidence go missing from police custody?"

Maura Casement, a niece of Barney Greene said that the ombudsman refused to investigate a link between British Army agent Brian Nelson and the murder weapon.

The press conference was told that the ombudsman's report made no mention of RUC special branch - the undercover anti-terrorist unit within the police force.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Al Hutchinson said there was no evidence of collusion between police and the UVF gang in two specific areas

The report published on Friday said police failed the families of the six people murdered by loyalists in 1994 by not investigating the killings properly.

Ombudsman Al Hutchinson said there was no evidence of collusion between police and the UVF gang in two specific areas of his investigation.

But there was insufficient evidence of collusion surrounding the getaway car used in the Loughinisland murders.

He said the police investigation lacked diligence, focus and leadership. He would not say whether informers had a role in the killings.

Police have apologised for a lack of communication and inconsistency over the killings.

Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the attack but no-one has ever been convicted.

The relatives of the victims believe the police's investigation was impeded by its desire to protect its informers within the ranks of the UVF.

They made a formal complaint to the office of the Police Ombudsman in 2006.

Mr Hutchinson, who met the families prior to the publication of his report on Friday, said that is still their contention.

'Sadness and frustration'

He has made three recommendations which he said were designed to reinvigorate the police investigation.

A PSNI spokesperson said it accepted the recommendations made by the ombudsman and was fully committed to apprehending those responsible for the attack.

"There is a great sadness and frustration for all of us in policing that those responsible for this horrific crime have never been brought to justice," he said.

"An ongoing Serious Crime Review will seek to re-establish direct lines of communication with the families."

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