Twenty-four years after the killing of six innocent soccer fans in Northern Ireland in the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co. Down in June 1994, there has been a major development in the case.
Kaffka could not make this up.
The two men and Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney produced "No Stone Unturned," a magnificent documentary released last year that identified those responsible for the killings. I was honored to participate in it.
The six innocent men—Adrian Rogan (aged 34), Patrick O’Hare (35), Eamon Byrne (39), Malcolm Jenkinson (53) Daniel McCreanor (59) and Barney Greene (87)—were in the Heights Bar watching a World Cup match between Ireland and Italy when two gunmen from the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) burst in and sprayed the premises with bullets.
It was a shocking crime, carried out allegedly to undermine any peace efforts within the IRA at a time when a major debate was taking place within the movement.
The Queen sent her sympathies, the RUC arrived quickly and vowed to catch the killers—ironic in the extreme—the then Northern Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew swore to leave no stone unturned. As it happened, not even a pebble was turned over.
No one has ever been charged with the crimes, and family members have carried out a brave 24-year campaign to find justice for their loved ones.
A 2016 report from the Police Ombudsman found that there had been collusion between the RUC and the UVF killers, and it also found that the police investigation had been compromised.
The Ombudsman’s findings were subsequently challenged in court and his findings were disqualified, yet another bizarre outcome.
But Birney, McCaffrey and Gibney took over the investigation and proved how the killing field was planned, how the police colluded and why no arrests were ever made.
Following the release of "No Stone Unturned," bereaved family members called for arrests, prosecutions, and action.
There have been actions and arrests all right—the arrests of Birney and McCaffrey for allegedly stealing or handling secret information.
If you were to arrest every journalist who received, via a leak, a valuable secret document you couldn’t build a jail big enough to hold them. It appears Birney and McCaffrey will be charged with theft for doing their job superbly.
The arrest of journalists because of their work is always a concern, particularly when it relates to those who uncover #humanrights violations. See our statement in relation to the arrest of Trevor Birney & Barry McCaffrey today: https://t.co/ZrBym7q8do #loughinisland pic.twitter.com/EKSGbE1PL1— CAJ (@CAJNi) August 31, 2018
Meanwhile, the total reluctance of the PSNI to follow up on the new evidence revealed in the documentary linking three men to the killing continues.
We know why. The old RUC had an informer among the killing squad.
They knew a UVF active unit was operating in South Down and they refused to arrest the chief suspects right after the killings or subsequently. Their bloody hands were as steeped in the massacre as the UVF gang who carried it out.
The arrests also send a chilling warning to journalists in Northern Ireland that the police intend to criminalize their behavior. These are dangerous times once again for the freedom of the press.