Loughinisland case is a key milestone in the legacy fight

The scene of devastation inside the Heights Bar where six Catholics were murdered by loyalists in 1994
The scene of devastation inside the Heights Bar where six Catholics were murdered by loyalists in 1994

Friday’s expected judgement in relation to the Police Ombudsman’s report into Loughinisland, due to be delivered by Mr Justice McCloskey, is a key moment in the ongoing legacy battle.

[In the event, judgement was deferred].

Letters to editor

Letters to editor

The case brought by former RUC officers Thomas Hawthorn and Raymond White has, for the first time, seen a proactive attempt to halt the one-sided onslaught in relation to legacy litigation.

Let me firstly say that every victim, every family, is entitled to robustly pursue truth and justice on behalf of their loved ones. I do not believe unionism’s, or the state’s, quarrel is with bereaved family members seeking justice.

However, I believe the issue is that many victims, who are genuinely pursuing justice, are being used for political gain by nationalist activists, and the republican propaganda machine.

The interesting thing about the majority of ‘legacy activists’, is that there is a remarkable sense of entitlement.

A belief that one set of legal, and moral, rules should apply to them, and an entirely different standard should be applied to unionists, and former members of the security forces.

Nationalist legacy groups recently publicly criticised the PSNI for appealing the courts’ judgement in relation to what is known as the ‘Glennane gang’ allegations.

Yet the same groups regularly avail of the appeals system to advance what they believe are the merits of their own cases.

Why is it one rule for legacy activists, and another for respondents?

So too have many legacy activist groups promoted the ‘No Stone Unturned’ Loughinisland documentary.

This documentary, much of which is based upon a leaked Police Ombudsman document (this is referred to within the documentary itself), names a number of people who have not only never been convicted, but have never been afforded due legal process.

The same can be said for many people named by Anne Cadwallder in her book, Lethal Allies.

Is this the society we now live in? Should we dispense with the court system, and instead just have a free-for-all of public kangaroo courts, conducted in the media?

On the other hand nationalist campaign groups and politicians strongly resisted the naming of recipients of On The Run (OTR) letters, citing the fact that many had never been tried or convicted and were entitled to due process.

How does this position square with that of promoting documentaries and books, which name persons who have similarly never been tried or convicted?

The case brought by Thomas Hawthorn and Raymond White is the first stage of unionism, and former members of the security forces, entering the legacy litigation fray.

The same rules will apply, and same tactics will be available, as those used consistently in recent years to promote the ‘collusion’ narrative.

Jamie Bryson, Co Down