Northern Ireland news

Loughinisland documentary suggests Special Branch had prior knowledge of massacre

Six men were shot dead in the UVF gun attack on the Heights Bar in Loughinisland on June 18 1994

NEW information contained in a documentary about the massacre of six men at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in 1994 suggests that Special Branch had prior knowledge of the attack.

Former RUC officer Jimmy Binns, who was part of the murder investigation team, told the makers of No Stone Unturned that two Special Branch officers told him police had an arrest operation in place to catch the UVF gang after receiving intelligence from an informer.

However, he claims the informer phoned police hours before the planned shooting to say it had been called off because there were problems with the getaway car.

The now retired officer claims police cancelled the arrest operation but the attack went ahead, killing the Catholic men as they watched the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup.

No-one has ever been convicted of the murders of pensioner Barney Green (87), Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (53), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O'Hare (35) and Eamon Byrne (39).

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Mr Rogan's wife Claire said detectives told her they "would leave no stone unturned" in the hunt for her husband's killers.

However, police were aware of suspects' names within 24 hours of the shootings but delayed making arrests.

The car used by the killers was later found in a farmer's field. It had not been set on fire as was usual in paramilitary attacks, but is thought to have broken down and been pushed off the road.

The car was later crushed by police, destroying any further potential evidential opportunities.

No Stone Unturned names all three suspects for the first time as well as the wife of the suspected gunman, who worked in the canteen of a police station.

She made two calls and sent a letter naming the suspects to police and a local councillor and claimed she had a part in planning the attack.

She was questioned in 1995 and admitted writing the letter but was never charged. The pair remain married and are in business together.

Police also did not probe allegations that an officer tipped off suspects they were to be arrested.

The weapons used in Loughinisland were used in other murders and paramilitary attacks.

Oscar-winning film maker Alex Gibney spent many years working on No Stone Unturned along with former Irish News journalist Barry McCaffrey.

The documentary was made by Belfast-based production company Fine Point Films it is due for general release across the UK and Ireland on Friday November 10.

It has also been submitted for consideration for the Academy Awards.

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