Britain issues non-apology for loyalist massacre

Relatives of Loughinisland massacre victims after the release of the Police Ombudsman's report in June.

Irish republican party Sinn Fein has condemned the British government’s non-apology over police collusion in a 1994 massacre in the six northern Irish counties still claimed by Britain.

On June 18, 1994, masked men armed with assault rifles burst into a pub in Loughinisland in County Down as Catholic civilians watched a Republic of Ireland World Cup football match. Opening fire, they killed six people and injured five.

The massacre was carried out by members of the loyalist (supporters of British rule) Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary. There is strong evidence of collusion between the UVF and British forces in Northern Ireland. There have been sustained allegations of collusion by police in the Loughinisland massacre, including that the killers were police agents and that police destroyed evidence to protect them.

The Morning Star said on September 9 that the British government had apologised for “any failings by the police” in trying to bring the “terrorists” responsible to justice.

“But Northern Ireland Minister Kris Hopkins shied away from calls for a British government apology to the victims, survivors and their families,” the article said.

“He said Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton had twice apologised to the families and accepted officers involved in collusion should be held to account.”

Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty chaired a meeting at Westminster’s Portcullis House on September 7 with human rights lawyer Niall Murphy, who represents the victim’s families, and documentary film-maker Trevor Birney.

The Morning Star reported that Doherty said the Loughinisland killings were not an aberration, but part of a military and political strategy by the British security services to frustrate the then-emerging Irish peace process.

“Collusion was, and is, a systematic, deliberate and targeted policy,” he said.

In June, Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire concluded that collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was a “significant feature” of the atrocity.

“Prior to the shootings in Loughinisland, there were a series of terrorist attacks which police should have recognised as the escalating activities of a small but ruthless UVF unit operating in South Down,” Dr Maguire said.

He said the RUC special branch maintained a “relationship” with sources likely to have been involved in the attack, the Morning Star reported.

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