Northern Ireland

Stakeknife briefing deferred as 'mark of respect' to Loughinisland families

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

A briefing on the alleged activities of the Army's most high-ranking agent in the IRA has been deferred as a "mark of respect" to the Loughinisland massacre families.

A Police Ombudsman report into the 1994 killing of six men in a County Down pub, is due on Thursday.

It would have coincided with police releasing details of its investigation into the agent code named Stakeknife.

A public announcement will now be made about Stakeknife on Friday 10 June.

It was feared that the Stakeknife briefing could overshadow the Police Ombudsman's findings on Loughinisland.

Image copyright Pacmaker
Image caption West Belfast man Fred Scappaticci denies he was an Army agent within the IRA

The six men were shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as they watched a World Cup match at the Heights Bar.

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.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "When these arrangements were made, we were unaware that the date of the Northern Ireland Policing Board meeting had also been selected by the Office of the Police Ombudsman to release the Loughinisland report.

"There are multiple victims and families of victims affected by each of these investigations and it is important that they are afforded the same opportunities to articulate views and to have their voices heard.

"As a mark of respect for all those affected by these investigations, we are deferring the public announcement of the investigation into the alleged activities of the person known as 'Stakeknife' until Friday 10 June.

"We recognise the impact of these investigations and we hope that the out-workings and findings of investigations support victims as Northern Ireland works through its troubled past."

The Loughinisland report will be the second ombudsman's report into the killings.

Relatives of those who died were strongly critical of the original Ombudsman report published in 2011. Its findings were later quashed by the High Court.

Meanwhile, police are expected to confirm details of the team who will investigate Stakeknife and their remit when they make their public announcement on Friday.

The agent has been linked to the murders of up to 50 people during the Troubles.

He has been named in the media as Freddie Scappacticci, originally from west Belfast. Mr Scappaticci has denied the allegations.

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