Families reject report into pub killings as 'no collusion found'
RELATIVES of six men murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in June 1994 rejected the findings yesterday of a fresh report into the massacre and accused police of colluding with the killers.
They believe detectives' inquiries into the Loughinisland pub shootings were impeded by the force's desire to protect its informers within the ranks of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
The report by Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson identified failings in the police investigation following its disposal of the getaway car and the loss of some evidence, but said there was insufficient evidence of collusion.
Moira Casement, a niece of one of the oldest people killed during the Troubles, disputed this, saying: "We feel that anyone who looks at the overwhelming evidence in this case with an open heart could come to no other conclusion than that there was collusion in the murder of our loved ones."
Her uncle, Barney Green (87), died in the shooting at the Heights Bar in rural Co Down.
The pub was sprayed with bullets indiscriminately by UVF gunmen; six people were killed and five injured.
The victims had been watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in a World Cup match.
The others who died were Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (53), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O'Hare (35) and Eamon Byrne (39).
Relatives of the victims complained to the ombudsman in 2006 about the investigation, which has seen 16 people arrested but nobody convicted.
Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was one of those shot, said: "For 11 years, police did not even have the focus and strategy to keep us informed."
The families' solicitor, Niall Murphy, said they maintained police colluded with the killers. He claimed the fact that the report held nobody accountable for police failings presented the spectre that it could happen again.
"What has made it worse is that Mr Hutchinson appears to have forgotten that the police ombudsman's office was established for one reason and one reason only -- to find the truth and report on it," he said.
An emotional press conference in Belfast yesterday was packed with relatives of the dead and injured and photographs of the victims were hung on the wall.
The ombudsman said the disposal of the getaway car from a police station 10 months after the incident should not have taken place without the permission of murder detectives.
He also examined an allegation that a serving police officer had been involved in storing vehicles used in the attack, and that he had passed on details of a witness in the investigation to a member of the public. Both matters were investigated and no action was taken.