RUC informers were at highest ‘echelons’ of loyalist paramilitaries

Posted By: June 10, 2016

Weapons had been used in 70 murders

 Allison Morris.Irish News. Friday, June 2016

 EVIDENCE WITHHELD: Dr Michael Maguire with his report confirming collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the RUC. Picture: Matt Bohill n GUNNED DOWN: The six men who died were, below from left, Adrian Rogan, Barney Green, Dan McCreanor Eamon Byrne, Malcolm Jenkinson and Patsy O’Hare 

COLLUSION between members of the RUC and a deadly unit of the UVF prevented the killers of six men, gunned down in a Co Down bar 22 years ago, being brought to justice.

A Police Ombudsman investigation found two of the weapons used in the attack on the Heights Bar in Loughinisland were part of a shipment brought into Northern Ireland by police informants who were at the highest “echelons” within loyalism.

The attack on June 18 1994 happened when gunmen burst in as customers were watching a Republic of Ireland v Italy World Cup match and sprayed the bar with gunfire.

Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (53), Barney Green (87), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O’Hare (35, and 39–year-old 

Eamon Byrne died in the shooting. Five others were injured in the outrage.

As well as the attack in Loughinisland the automatic weapons had been used in at least 70 other murders or attempted murders, the ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has revealed.

Dr Maguire said the murder squad that carried out the mass shooting had been involved in a number of other murders in the period beforehand, including that of Jack Kielty, father of comedian Patrick Kielty, but had avoided detection because Special Branch withheld evidence from detectives investigating the crimes.

In a damning indictment of policing practices at the time he said some Special Branch officers had a “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” mentality and placed the protection of informants above investigating 

serious criminality.

“When viewed collectively, I have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders,” Dr Maguire said.

While some officers had tried to catch the killers, Dr. Maguire said they were “working blindfold” as Special Branch was withholding vital intelligence.

The watchdog expressed disappointment that some officers refused to engage with the ombudsman including a former detective chief inspector.

Dr. Maguire said being a police officer should carry a “lifetime accountability obligation” however, his investigators also praised those retired police officers who had come forward and engaged with the office.

The Police Ombudsman did not investigate the attack in isolation but examined the role of police informants in smuggling weapons into Northern Ireland from South Africa in the late 1980s.

Information provided by state agents in high positions within the paramilitary groupings helped lead to the recovery of a significant number of the weapons that were intended for the UDA.

However, guns destined for the UVF and Ulster Resistance groups escaped detection, despite being stored for a time in the farmhouse of a former RUC reservist James Mitchell.

The Ulster Resistance weapons were received by a man named in the report as ‘person D’ known to be Noel Little, father of DUP MLA Emma Little Pengelly, who was convicted in Paris in 1989 of trying to sell missile technology from the Shorts factory in Belfast.

While many of the Ulster Resistance weapons were never 

located, the UVF weapons were used in 70 murders and attempted murders, including those at Loughinisland the ombudsman said.

While the watchdog said he had “no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders” there was no evidence the security 

forces had forewarning of the 


“I have found no evidence that sources were tasked with gathering specific information that could have assisted the murder investigation,” Dr Maguire said.

“This was a ‘hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil’ approach to the use of some informants, which potentially frustrated the police investigation”, he said.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said the report “makes uncomfortable reading, particularly in relation to the alleged actions of police officers at the time”.

“I want to reassure the families and the public that I have cooperated fully with the ombudsman and I will continue to do so if he determines to take this further.

“The PSNI remains firmly committed to apprehending those responsible for these murders and appeal to the community for information to allow us to do so.”

Solicitor Niall Murphy, far left, who has represented the families throughout the process, said that the report’s findings must lead to “further accountability”.

“This report cannot simply lay out the facts, something must happen”, he said.

Speaking about the families’ reaction to the report he said they were “shocked, then euphoric at the truth recovery but apoplectic at the cover up”.

“This is a difficult set of facts to come to terms with, that the state was so intrinsically involved in the murder of your loved one and then the cover up.”

He added that other families whose loved ones were killed with weapons brought into Northern Ireland as part of the loyalist 

shipment will also demand further answers as a result of the report.

“This is crucial reading for those families and I would encourage them to get this report and to take it forward in the context of their own case,” he added.