Northern Ireland news

No Stone Unturned: Call for action following new Loughinisland revelations

A shopping bag hangs on gates at the Co Down home of Ronald and Hilary Hawthorne, two people named in a new documentary about the Loughinisland massacre
John Monaghan

THE SDLP and Sinn Féin have called for action following new revelations about the Loughinisland massacre.

Former South Down MP Margaret Ritchie described details revealed in a major documentary as "chilling" and said the Irish government needed to intervene.

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was one of six people killed in the June 1994 attack on the Heights Bar, said the film highlighted the need for justice and accountability.

No Stone Unturned, which goes on release on Friday November 10, names three people suspected of involvement in the attack, as well as the wife of a suspected gunman.

It identifies Ronald Hawthorne as the man referred to as 'Person A' in a Police Ombudsman report last year about the massacre.

His wife Hilary Hawthorne is said to have admitted to detectives that she named the suspects in two calls to an anonymous phone line and in a letter sent to a former SDLP councillor.

Her voice was said to have been recognised by police because she was a civilian employee in an RUC station.

In the anonymous letter, she also implicated herself around the planning of the attack.

Ronald Hawthorne was arrested in August 1994 - two months after the killings - while Hilary was detained the following year.

Both were released without charge.

It is understood they remain married and have been involved a cleaning and pest control business together.

The makers of the programme put the allegations to the suspects and made them aware of the broadcast, but did not receive a response.

No-one answered an intercom when The Irish News visited the Hawthornes' home in the Clough area of Co Down yesterday.

There were few signs of life at the house, with blinds drawn and a shopping bag hanging over the front gate.

Ms Rogan, who was just weeks short of her eighth birthday when her father was shot dead in the atrocity, was elected to the assembly for South Down earlier this year.

She said it is time for legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House to be implemented.

"Watching the documentary was a very powerful experience because it really goes into complexities and nearly links the pieces together," she said.

"It is also a huge relief that it’s actually out there. All can watch it and know the depth of collusion, the cover-ups, failed investigations and continued attempts to hide the truth.

"It also vindicates our long-held suspicions and beliefs that the truth about these murders was being covered up by the very people, the RUC, that were supposed to protect us.

"We now need justice and accountability from those in authority."

Former SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said she recalled being shown the letter written by Hilary Hawthorne.

"I remember advising that they see a solicitor and send it to the police. Little did I know that the letter was written by someone working in the police station. What did the police do about the letter?" she said.

"What are the authorities doing to apprehend these people? They must be subject to the due process of the law.

"There also needs to be the involvement of the Irish government here in protecting the interests of victims and survivors.

"This goes to the heart of legacy issues. It is chilling to read."

Last year the Police Ombudsman found that there had been collusion in the murders of the six Catholics, who were shot dead as they watched the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup.

Oscar-winning film maker Alex Gibney spent years working alongside former Irish News journalist Barry McCaffrey on No Stone Unturned, which has been made by Belfast-based production company Fine Point Films.

Due for general release on November 10, it has also been submitted for consideration for the Academy Awards.

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