Northern Ireland

Loughinisland: NUJ protest over questioning of journalists

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Members of the NUJ outside Musgrave police station in Belfast

Journalists have picketed a police station in Belfast to protest against an investigation into two colleagues involved in a documentary on the Loughinisland killings.

Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney were first questioned in August.

They were arrested at their homes by officers from Durham Constabulary assisted by the PSNI.

The pair are being investigated for the alleged theft of confidential material used in a documentary.

The documentary, No Stone Unturned, examined the murders of six Catholic men by the UVF in Loughinsinland in 1994.

Mr McCaffrey and Mr Birney had to present themselves for further questioning at Musgrave police station on Friday morning.

Image caption Trevor Birney, left, and Barry McCaffery, right, outside Musgrave police station on Friday morning

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) held a picket outside the station.

The NUJ described the arrests and investigation as an attack on the press.

A solicitor also criticised the police inquiry.

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

Niall Murphy said the PSNI response to a report by the Police Ombudsman in June 2016 which said there was collusion between the killers and some police officers was an insult to the families of those killed.

"What should have happened after that report was a renewed police effort to prosecute the killers," he said.

"But there was no criminal investigation into the killers. What is most disgraceful is that the only criminal investigation to arise from this renewed interest in the Loughinisland case is the arrest of two journalists."

On Thursday a judge rejected a legal bid by two retired police officers to quash the Ombudsman's report into the killings.

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