N.Ireland police 'at fault' over 1994 World Cup killings

9th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Collusion between British police and Protestant paramilitaries was a "significant factor" in the sectarian massacre of six Catholic men in Northern Ireland in 1994, an independent investigator ruled Thursday.

Police ombudsman Michael Maguire said detectives failed to share information with colleagues about the "small but ruthless" gang suspected of involvement in the killings, as they were informants at the time.

The victims were gunned down as they watched a World Cup football match in a bar in the village of Loughinisland. No one has been convicted of the murders.

An estimated 3,500 people died during the three decades of sectarian violence known as 'The Troubles', pitting pro-British unionists against republicans seeking a united Ireland.

The violence was largely ended by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

In a damning 160-page report, Maguire said police had no direct intelligence about the attack in the Heights Bar, but that the murders could have been prevented if information had been shared.

"When viewed collectively, I have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders," said the report.

Maguire accused police of turning a blind eye to the activities of pro-British paramilitaries, including gun-running, to protect informants within their ranks.

Instead of being arrested, the men were allowed to distribute arms that police believe were used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders, including the Loughinisland attack.

"Had that gang been subject to a more robust response they may not have been involved in the attack," Maguire told Irish broadcaster RTE.

Maguire backed claims by the victims' families that the police investigation into the attack was deeply flawed.

"There was a catastrophic failure in that police had intelligence as to who the suspects were the day after the killings, but it was over a month before those individuals were arrested," he said.


© 2016 AFP

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