Northern Ireland

Loughinisland massacre: Court quashes Police Ombudsman report

The Heights bar, Loughinisland
Image caption Six men were murdered in the attack at the Heights bar in Loughinisland

Belfast High Court has quashed a report compiled by the Police Ombudsman into the Loughinisland massacre.

Six men died in the attack when loyalist gunmen opened fire in a pub in the County Down village in June 1994.

Relatives of those who died were strongly critical of the 2011 report, published by the former police ombudsman, Al Hutchinson.

Mr Hutchinson has since been replaced by Dr Michael Maguire, who will now lead a fresh investigation of the case.

The victim's families, who had branded the previous report a whitewash, welcomed the court's decision.

The six men who died in the in the Heights Bar shooting were all Catholics.

They were among customers watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in a World Cup football match when UVF gunmen entered the pub and opened fire indiscriminately.

Those shot dead included 87-year-old Barney Greene, one of the oldest victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Also killed were Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Daniel McCreanor, 59, Patrick O'Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39. Five others were seriously wounded.

No one has been convicted of the murders, although 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Victims' relatives suspect the RUC investigation was undermined in order to protect informants.

But in June last year, Mr Hutchinson found there was not enough evidence of collusion between police and the loyalist gang.

The relatives sought to have these findings' quashed, with lawyers for the families claiming the conclusions reached were flawed.

Mr Maguire took up office as Police Ombudsman in July.

His decision to re-open the case is believed to relate to statements made by a self-confessed UVF informer and a former RUC detective.

'More questions than answers'

The move has been welcomed by both Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

"The decision to quash this investigation which was brought forward by the previous Ombudsman Al Hutchinson and to re-investigate the tragic events that happened in Loughinisland is the right one," Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane said.

"It was clear that the families had no confidence in this investigation and its findings."

South Down MP, the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie, said: "The previous report posed more questions than it answered and pointed to collusion in the murder of six innocent catholic men."

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