Stonewalling investigations: Loughinisland suspicions deepen

Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney

Even in the chilling litany of horrors inflicted by one Northern Ireland community on the other, the 1994 murder of six men by the Ulster Volunteer Force in Loughinisland as they watched a World Cup game, has a particular sharpness, a sharpness still relevant today.

Just last week, a Northern Ireland judge dismissed a challenge brought against a watchdog finding that police colluded with the UVF killers. Mrs Justice Keegan dismissed an application by

two retired police officers, ruling that the ombudsman could declare that security force collusion was an issue.

That bid to limit the investigation is not the only big-stick-waving in play. Journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney, who were involved in a documentary, No Stone Unturned, which examined the murders, are the subject of an investigation. The recent decision to extend their bail, rather than end the case against them, has been described as a “travesty of justice” and as a “fishing exercise” as regards the alleged theft of a document related to the killings.

There are two issues in play: Press freedom and the right of the victims’ families to know the truth. Almost a quarter of a century after the event, a campaign that looks and walks like a cover-up continues. The Irish Government must involve itself, through the channels opened by the Belfast Peace Agreement, and insist that the journalists be free to do their work and that, most of all, the truth finally prevails.

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