EMBARGO: 6PM, 14TH June 2016
The Police Ombudsman’s Loughinisland Report outlines very clearly the damning and devastating truth that police were guilty of significant collusion in relation to sectarian mass murder on that fateful night, 18th June 1994.
This Report contains details that are deeply disturbing and expose for all of us, once again, a dark chapter in Northern Ireland’s history.
The families of those 6 men who were ruthlessly gunned down finally have the truth but they don’t have justice. We learn from the Report that police officers missed investigative opportunities, destroyed evidence and it concludes that there was collusion between some police officers and loyalist paramilitaries.
This Report reminds us, once again, of the desperate and unacceptable attitudes that prevailed within elements of policing and other state forces in Northern Ireland during that era.
We now have the truth that collusion was a factor in the murder of 6 innocent men in Loughinisland and the maiming and attempted murder of others in the Heights Bar.
Unfortunately today there is no real evidence that the PSNI have been actively pursuing those identified by the Ombudsman Report.
It is essential that the Police Ombudsman’s Report is referred to the Public Prosecutions Service and there must be a clear message by the Irish and British Governments and by the Northern Ireland Executive to the PSNI that they need to pursue their investigations in the most rigorous manner possible and ensure that those who committed this heinous crime are brought to justice.
The victims, the survivors, their families and indeed the wider community deserve justice.
There were many dark chapters in the history of Northern Ireland including Loughinisland. The depth and scale of collusion with violent gunmen is a damning indictment of the rotten culture that prevailed in parts of the security services. The establishment of the PSNI was an important step forward and, indeed, there is need for ongoing reform of the police service in Northern Ireland.
I do not know if it is possible for the families to find some sense of closure with the truth around how their loved ones were murdered. Again, I emphasise that the killers must be brought to justice and there has to be answers for this mass murder.
Through Parliamentary Questions and through Debates in this House I have highlighted the whole issue of collusion and the needless loss of life that resulted from such collusion and again I emphasise the need for the British to co-operate with investigations in to the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and also in to bombings in my own constituency including Belturbet, where innocent decent people lost their lives.
I believe that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, must state clearly that she accepts the findings of the Loughinisland Report and she should also apologise and retract the statement that she made last February where she referenced the RUC not pulling the trigger in Loughinisland.