Euro 2012: Irish team to mark Loughinisland massacre 18 years on with black armbands
THE families of six men shot dead in a sectarian massacre have praised football chiefs after they agreed to let the Republic of Ireland mark the atrocity at Euro 2012.
The team will wear black armbands while playing Italy on June 18 - exactly 18 years since the Loughinisland massacre during the World Cup in the US in 1994.
The Football Association of Ireland confirmed European football chiefs gave the go-ahead for the remembrance as the team take on Italy, a repeat of the match the victims were watching.
Niall Murphy, solicitor for the families, said the relatives were moved by the honour.
"The families are touched that this tragic event can be commemorated on such a poignant day, the 18th anniversary of the atrocity," he said.
"We would like to thank the FAI and Uefa for their assistance in providing a forum to recall the awful event that took place on that fateful day when Ireland played Italy."
Six Catholic men were shot dead when Ulster Volunteer Force killers opened fire indiscriminately inside the Heights bar in Loughinisland, County Down.
The Republic defeated Italy 1-0 that night in the Giants Stadium in New York.
Among those who died in the attack was Barney Green, aged 87, the oldest victim of the Troubles. Five other men were seriously wounded.
No one has been convicted of the murders, although 16 people were arrested over the years.
Uefa granted permission for the commemoration after the FAI approached them on behalf of the families of the bereaved.
John Delaney, FAI chief executive, said the commemoration is particularly poignant as the Republic will be playing Italy in a major tournament.
"What happened in Loughinisland in 1994 was an awful tragedy and deeply moving for all football fans. I would like to thank Uefa for assisting us in commemorating this atrocity and take the opportunity to remember all those who lost their lives in the Troubles," he said.
The Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman last year found insufficient evidence of collusion between police and the loyalist gang in connection with the atrocity and subsequent investigation but he did identify police failings over the disposal of the getaway car and the loss of some evidence.