Ritchie calls for Loughinisland prosecutions

Posted By: September 05, 2016

John Manley. Irish News  (Belfast).Monday, September 5, 2016

Secretary of State James Brokenshire is being urged to back the prosecution of those behind 1994’s Loughinisland massacre.

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie will lead the call during Wednesday’s Westminster debate on the latest Police Ombudsman’s report into the atrocity.

Michael Maguire’s report in June highlighted collusion between police officers and the loyalist gunmen who shot dead six Catholics as they watched a 1994 World Cup tie between the Republic of Ireland and Italy.

The report, which was highly critical of a previous probe by the ombudsman’s office, said police knew the names of suspects within 24 hours of the attacks, but delayed making arrests. It also said that one of the suspects was an RUC informant.

Ms Ritchie has secured an adjournment debate at Westminster, where the SDLP MP said she would be pressing the secretary of state to ensure that the British government supports prosecutions, along with an apology and compensation for the families of the victims.

Following the report’s publication, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to the South Down MP saying he took “any allegations of police misconduct very seriously”.

“Where there is evidence of wrongdoing it must be pursued – everyone is subject to the rule of law,” the then Tory leader wrote.

Ms Ritchie said she had written to Theresa May, urging her to intervene personally.

“In view of this declaration of the British government’s position at the very highest level, I will be pushing the secretary of state for Northern Ireland during the debate for prosecutions of those who perpetrated the crime and for anybody who tried to pervert the course of justice in the Loughinisland tragedy,” she said.

“We cannot begin to move forward to build a shared and inclusive society if issues from the past are not comprehensively addressed.”