Northern Ireland news

Villiers criticised over Loughinisland comments

The scene of Loughinisland massacre where six men were shot dead in a UVF gun attack on the Heights Bar in 1994.
Connla Young

SECRETARY of State Theresa Villiers has been accused of being insensitive following remarks made about the Loughinisland massacre.

Emma Rogan hit out after Ms Villiers said RUC officers and British soldiers had no direct involvement when the UVF shot dead six people in a bar in the Co Down village in 1994.

The Police Ombudsman is expected to release a report into the RUC investigation in the coming weeks.

Speaking about legacy issues in Belfast this week, Ms Villiers said: "It wasn't the RUC or the army who planted the bombs at La Mon, Enniskillen, or the Shankill, or pulled the triggers at Loughinisland or Greysteel."

Ms Rogan, whose father Adrian (34) was one of the men killed at Loughinisland, said there are questions to be answered about the weapons used in the attack and the role of security force agents, as well as the RUC investigation.

Her solicitor, Niall Murphy of KRW Law, claimed for the Secretary of State to make such an intervention prior to the publication of the ombudsman's report "calls into question the judgement of Ms Villiers".

Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard also called on Ms Villiers to apologise.

"This is a total insult by the British government to the victims and their families," he said.

East Derry MLA John Dallat has also raised concerns about the remarks.

The SDLP representative accused the secretary of state of "rewriting history" by failing to acknowledge the role of security forces in atrocities such as Greysteel.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said Ms Villiers stood by her comments.

"While there were cases where the security forces fell short of the highest standards expected of them, over 250,000 men and women served in the RUC and the armed forces in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and in the vast majority of cases they carried out their duties with exemplary professionalism, fully within the law."

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