Northern Ireland news

Journalists arrested over Loughinisland documents released

From left, solicitor John Finucane with his client, investigative journalist Barry McCaffrey, and Trevor Birney with his solicitor Niall Murphy leaving Musgrave police station in Belfast on Friday night. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA

A JOURNALIST arrested by police investigating the suspected theft of confidential documents linked to the Loughinisland massacre said it was “an attack on the press” as he and a colleague were released on bail on Friday night.

Families and supporters of those killed in the 1994 attack had staged a vigil in solidarity with award-winning reporters Barry McCaffrey (48) and Trevor Birney (51).

The two men, who produced the documentary No Stone Unturned about the UVF gun attack at the Heights Bar, were detained at 7am on Friday.

They walked out of Musgrave police station in Belfast at 8.55pm, with a tearful Mr McCaffrey saying: “There are families here [who] lost loved ones who didn’t get justice today.

“This man [Mr Birney] was taken away from his wife and his children this morning. My neighbours had to see me getting taken away. It’s not fair. It’s not fair.

“And it’s an attack on the press, everybody should realise. It’s us today. Tomorrow it could be you.”

Mr McCaffrey’s lawyer John Finucane said he was “deeply disturbed” by the men’s detention, while Mr Birney’s solicitor Niall Murphy said he had gone through four taped interviews but “not one scintilla of evidence” was put to him.

Police said the confidential material under investigation, which officers say featured in the documentary, had been in the possession of the Police Ombudsman’s office.

Durham Constabulary – which made the arrests – was asked to conduct an independent investigation.

Around 100 people turned out at the Heights Bar in Co Down on Friday night in silent solidarity with the journalists.

Several held aloft a banner calling for justice and others held framed photographs of their murdered loved ones.

Emma Rogan, whose father was murdered in the shootings, said the “whole community were shocked to hear [the journalists] were arrested while the perpetrators of this heinous act have never been charged”.

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