Loughinisland: British death squads in Ireland exposed

Scene of the UVF massacre

An official report by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland has found evidence of extensive collusion between British state security forces and the gang which murdered six men in a bar in Loughisland in 1994 while they were watching a soccer match on TV. 

The British state imported arms for the gang, identified targets for them and at least some of its members were in its direct pay. The Ombudsman said that up to 70 people were killed by this gang acting under the name of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Over many years campaigners on this issue and the bereaved were dismissed as conspiracy theorists, fantasists and political troublemakers.

In response to the report, Labour’s Shadow Sectretary of state for Northern Ireland Vernon Coaker said, ‘This was an appalling outrage and the Ombudsman’s findings are truly shocking. Nobody can be above the law. It shows again the need to find a comprehensive process to deal with the legacy of the past.’ Sinn Féin has long argued that the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement requires bodies to be established which can investigate all the outstanding issues arising from the armed conflict, including the role of the British state.

Britain armed, paid and colluded with terror gangs who murdered dozens of innocent civilians in Ireland. These were death squads. Every socialist, and anyone with a commitment to human rights should raise this report as a matter of urgency.

Below we reproduce an article from An Phoblacht and a statement from Sinn Féin on the report.

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman into the murder of six men by the unionist Ulster Volunteer Force in Loughinisland in 1994 has confirmed there was collusion between British agents, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and loyalist death squads in the massacre.

Six men were killed and five more wounded in the UVF gun attack on The Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down, on 18 June 1994 while watching an Ireland World Cup soccer match.

The six men cut down by the UVF as they watched the football were Daniel McCreanor (59), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Eamon Byrne (39), Patrick O’Hare (35) and Barney Greene (87).

The report published today [9 June] by Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire states:

“When viewed collectively, I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”

The catalogue of collusion contained in the report includes:-

The involvement of agents in the importation of weapons used in the murders;

The role of agents directly involved in the attack;

The active participation of British state agents in the killings;

Collusion between the RUC and UVF resulting in suspects being tipped off that they were to be arrested;

Failure to follow up information;

“Catastrophic failures” in the investigation of suspects.

The Police Ombudsman also found that there had been “fundamental failings” in the investigation into the Loughinisland murders.

“I can only conclude that the desire to protect informants may have influenced policing activity and undermined the police investigation into those who ordered and carried out the attack,” the Ombudsman said.

“When combined with a flawed investigation of the Loughinisland murders this had undermined the investigation into those responsible for the crimes and ultimately justice for the victims and survivors.”

The Ombudsman’s report states that the RUC Special Branch had information that the assault rifles imported from South Africa by British agents which were used in the attack on the Heights Bar had been stored at a farm in Glenanne used by the notorious ‘Glenanne Gang’, which was made up of loyalists, state agents and serving soldiers and police officers in the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The farm at Glenanne was also used as a base for the Dublin and Monaghan bomb attacks in 1974.

The families of those killed in the UVF attack have welcomed today’s report.

South Down Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard, who has worked closely with the families, said:

“This report from the Police Ombudsman into the Loughinisland massacre reveals the undeniable and shocking scale of collusion between British agents, the RUC and the UVF gang who carried out the attack.

“No one can now deny that the British Government and its forces actively colluded with loyalist death squads to murder Irish citizens and then went to great lengths to protect those responsible.”

Statement from SinnFéin – Collusion in the Loughinisland Massacre Undeniable

Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has claimed that the Police Ombudsman’s report into the Loughinisland massacre shows clear and specific collusion between the British State and this UVF death squad.

Crowe, who is a member of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, said he intends to raise the issue in the Dáil at the earliest opportunity.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Firstly, I want to commend the families of those killed and wounded in the Loughinisland massacre for their courage, commitment, and relentless drive to uncover the truth about what happened on that awful night on 18 June 1994.

“Their loved ones were intently watching Ireland play Italy in the World Cup, like many of us who will also be watching Ireland play Italy in the European Championships in the coming days, when the murderous attack began

“They were victims of an unprovoked and sectarian attack that left 6 dead and 5 injured.

“The Loughinisland relatives have had to wait a long 22 years for this report, and now we know why.

“The report is unambiguous. It shows clear and systemic collusion between British agents, the RUC and the UVF death squad who carried out the attack.

“Some of those directly involved were RUC agents, using weapons from South Africa that were brought in to Ireland by other British agents. The RUC never carried out any real investigation into the Loughinisland massacre and they proactively engaged in a cover up.

“No one can now deny that the British government and its state forces actively colluded with loyalist death squads to murder Irish citizens, and then went to extraordinary lengths to protect those directly and indirectly involved

“The depth of collusion detailed in this report goes beyond the Loughinisland massacre and the Ombudsman’s Report makes a direct link with the Glenanne Gang, who were involved in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

“The British State also continues to prevaricate and withhold vital information on these bombings, despite years of campaigning by the victims and their families, and 3 all-party Dáil motions calling on them to release the relevant files.

“The British Government needs to acknowledge their responsibility and open up their files to independent scrutiny.

“I intend to raise this Ombudsman’s Report in the Dáil at the first available opportunity and to put it on the agenda of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement when it is reconvened.”

The above article was originally published here by An Phoblacht, and the statement was published here.