Ombudsman clears former RUC commander of collusion over Loughinisland killings


Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman has cleared a former police commander of collusion in the Loughinisland attack.

Six Catholic men were shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as they watched a World Cup football match in a pub in Loughinisland, County Down, in 1994.

In June 2016 Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire ruled there had been collusion between some police officers and the gunmen.

A spokesman for the office said they were making "minor" amendments to the published report to make it abundantly clear that collusion did not apply to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) commander of its Downpatrick subdivision at the time, Ronald Hawthorne.

"We did not believe he was connected to these events and have made changes which make that even clearer."

The office has withdrawn two paragraphs which referred to police failures in addressing the activities of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in south Down and has replaced them with one in which it continues to acknowledge such failures but adds that these cannot be attributed to any individual police officer.

It has also withdrawn two paragraphs which provide commentary about the storing and destruction of the car used by the terrorists on the night of the attack.

The paragraph in which the Police Ombudsman makes a determination of collusion has been amended.

The spokesman said: "The Office has removed text that collusion involved 'catastrophic failures in the police investigation' of the attack and 'the destruction of exhibits and documents', although the determination remains.

"While these remain significant issues in the report, the changes are made in order to clarify that they do not apply to Mr Hawthorne.

"The great majority of the report remains unaltered and the Office will continue to defend the judicial review action taken by the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association regarding our legal powers."

Two retired officers are attempting to have Dr Maguire's report quashed in a legal challenge.