Son speaks out on anniversary of Glenanne gang pub killings
THE son of a victim of the notorious Glenanne gang has demanded answers as to why the State concealed the fact one of the men convicted of the double attack on an Armagh village 40 years ago was a serving RUC officer.
Four people died and dozens were injured in the no-warning attacks on two bars in the tiny village of Charlemont in May 1976.
It wasn't until 24 years later that the victims' families discovered that a serving policeman had been convicted in connection with the killings.
Three of the victims died when a bomb exploded on Clancy's Bar including pub owner Felix Clancy (54), Sean O'Hagan (22) a talented GAA footballer and Robert McCullough (44) from Mullyleggan in Armagh.
Minutes later the same gang sprayed automatic gunfire into the Eagle Bar. Fred McLoughlin (47) was hit once in the chest. He died two weeks later in hospital from his injuries.
A Protestant he converted to Catholicism on marrying his wife May. His son Jim said he believed his father's killing was sectarian. "His family were all Protestant. is was meant to be done in their name. It was tough for them," he said.
The family said they were given no information on the investigation into the case and it was only 24 years later that they were contacted by the Pat Finucane Centre who had discovered that a number of people had been convicted of the attack, including a serving RUC reservist Joey Lutton.
According to the Pat Finucane Centre, Lutton was described during the trial as a factory worker with no details given about his RUC background.
Others convicted of the attack at the Eagle Bar included David Henry Dalziel Kane, a former UDR man and Garfield Beattie - one of the most prolific members of the Glenanne gang.
A member of the Territorial Army, the automatic weapon he used to kill Mr McLoughlin was previously stolen from an army base.
In May 1978 Beattie admitted the sectarian murder of Patrick McNeice and also admitted the murder two years previously of Fred McLoughlin in the Eagle Bar.
He further admitted murdering SDLP activist Denis Mullen in September 1975, saying it was part of his initiation into the UVF.
On 12 August 1976, Beattie took police officers to a bog in Annaghmore from where, in a drain, he recovered a machine gun.
The gun had been used to in a series of other murders linked to the Glenanne Gang.
"We still have many unanswered questions,", said Mr McLoughlin.
"I know some families had bad experiences with the HET (Historical Enquiries Team) but we didn't. They were brilliant with us and I'm sure did all they could.
"But the report raised more questions than answers. You just think could they have arrested the gang members earlier and saved, not just my father, but, all those other victims who came after him.
"It would have been obvious who was responsible, given that one was a serving RUC man and that was covered up. It's not mentioned anywhere during the case or his sentencing.
"If you look at a map of the area and pin point where the gang members lived in comparison to their victims, they were basically just killing their neighbours. It was as simple and as brutal as that," Mr McLoughlin said.
"Why were the other killings using the same weapon not further investigated, and how was it that an RUC man happened to appear in court charged with murder and yet it was never said in open court.
"My dad missed out on so much, he never got to meet his grandchildren. I wonder if it could have been prevented, if all those lives could have been saved", Mr McLoughlin added.