On this day, June 18, in 1994 members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, burst into a pub with assault rifles and fired on the customers, killing six civilians and wounding five.
A film documentary by an Oscar-winning director has brought the story of the state’s role in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre to a world audience and by doing so, enhanced the families’ quest for justice.
“No Stone Left Unturned” was released in 2017 and is based on the work of former North Belfast News journalist Barry McCaffrey and the families’ solicitor, Niall Murphy.
In 2016, McCaffrey and Murphy led a discussion in St. Mary’s University along with Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was killed in the attack on the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, a quiet village in County Down, and Moira Casement, whose uncle Barney was the oldest victim.
Niall Murphy outlined the differences in the 2011 Police Ombudsman’s report and the 2016 version that found that security force collusion was a central part of a failure to adequately investigate the atrocity.
The movie tells the story in the context of the 1994 World Cup and Moira Casement said this was what the families hoped would back their fight to bring people to account.
“The ripples that the report caused and the media interest in that was good to see,” she said.
“There wasn’t a paper you picked up that didn’t refer back to Loughinisland. It caused wider ripples and hopefully, it will cause more when this film comes out.”
It is based on an ESPN documentary shown in 2014 during the World Cup that was seen by an estimated 800 million people.
“ESPN during the World Cup show a series of documentaries and this was part of it,” he said.
“It’s quite simplistic because it’s for an international audience, but the benefit of it was that it went to 800 million people.
“Alex (Gibney), the director, is from New York. He won an Oscar in 2008 for a documentary called ‘Taxi to the Dark Side,’ which was about the Bush administration’s use of torture in Iraq.
"It’s a much bigger issue and it looks at the issue of how the state’s policy of protecting intelligence and informers was prioritized over the families’ rights to natural justice and bringing killers to courts.
“The Police Ombudsman’s report came out in June  and it has confirmed the fact that there were informers in Loughinisland.
“While the Ombudsman’s report gave us much more answers we feel there are still unanswered questions there and that’s what this documentary is about.”
Niall Murphy from KRW Law said the state’s involvement in the massacre made it a story that had to be told.
“We have a circumstance where the car is delivered to a murder gang by a registered informer," he said.
“Police are aware of this within an hour and within months the car is destroyed. The RUC kept destroying the evidence. They destroyed the car after ten months. They destroyed all interview notes of any suspect who was interviewed in the first two years.
“Gough Barracks was a convenient excuse. Asbestos became the state’s convenient shredding machine. Every interview note ever taken from a suspect was destroyed and we don’t have that anymore.
“Police have lost the logbook of the car and we know now that they didn’t collect cigarette butts from the bar. They left a bullet in the bar that wasn’t discovered for almost two years.
“We also would learn from (Police Ombudsman) Al Hutchinson’s report that nine out of sixteen suspects didn’t have forensics taken properly – fingerprints, DNA, hair samples.
“The getaway car was found, three balaclavas were found, three boiler suits were found, three gloves were found – none of which were found by police. All were found by citizens and brought to the police’s attention. All that evidence would be destroyed.”
Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was murdered that night, said for her the film will be a permanent memory to the victims and the injustice done.
“I personally feel that the film is a legacy,” she said.
“When I’m dead and gone it will be there for generations.
“To us as the families the state is trying to delay the truth for these people because Oran’s wife died.
“My granda Rogan died. Willie O’Hare died – all the older generation are dying off but this will be here for my children’s children to see what happened here and what was wrong.”
* Originally published in Aug 2016.