ON THE 18th of June, 1994, six men were murdered by terrorists in a small rural pub in Loughinisland, County Down.
They were shot in the back by Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gunmen as they watched the World Cup match between The Republic of Ireland vs Italy.
Several unnamed people were arrested but very quickly released without charge. For more than twenty years, their family received no answers, no justice, no closure. Not one person ever spent a day behind bars for the mass murder.
A 2017 documentary on the atrocity and controversies surrounding it aired on Irish TV for the first time yesterday and was full of blood-chilling revelations about the cover-up and collusion between UVF forces and the police force in Northern Ireland.
Police 'losing' evidence such as initial statements by the suspects, the getaway car being destroyed while in the hands of the police, as well as the exploration of the influence of police informers within terrorist groups were a big focus of the documentary.
The team behind No Stone Unturned interviewed witnesses, families of the victims, former members of terrorist groups and members of the police service.
They followed the story from the night of the massacre up to the point where, more than twenty years later, an investigation finally found that there had indeed been collusion between the UVF and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police force.
But the documentary-maker Alex Gibney and his own team of investigators went even further, finally naming the suspects and officers involved whose identities had always been protected.
By hiring a private detective, the team even uncovered the name, location and workplace of the suspected Loughinisland gunman Ronnie Hawthorne, who still lives in the area with his wife Hilary-- who was also involved in the planning of the Loughinisland murders, according to an anonymous letter she is suspected to have penned to detectives.
Despite a mountain of evidence against the suspects there has still been no further arrests-- except for two journalists involved in the making of the documentary, who were arrested and had their houses raided for apparently stealing the documents which revealed the names of the suspects.
Their charges were dropped after public outcry and a rebuke from the judges on the case.
To many, the fact that the journalists involved in the documentary were investigated more thoroughly than the suspects involved in the murder of six men signified something "very unsettling".
Here are some of the reactions to No Stone Unturned, which aired last night on RTE One.
The #Loughinisland families have faced ~ RUC failing to carry out a proper invest & destroying evidence,2 Ombudsman's reports - 2016's challenged by retired RUC but failing & the arrest of 2 invest journalists
Any chance now the perpetrators can be arrested?#NoStoneUnturned pic.twitter.com/Xcv5mLcuts
— Sarah (@Sal_feeko) October 2, 2019
#NoStoneUnturned Compelling piece of TV journalism.
Very unsettling that there appears to have been more diligent investigation of the journalists since the programme was made than against the alleged murderers.
Watch it back on the RTÉ player. Worth it.
— Philip Boucher-Hayes (@boucherhayes) October 2, 2019
"Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"
Ombudsman's report found STATE collusion was a 'significant feature' in the UVF gun attack that brutally murdered 6 friends watching football.
25 yrs later the PSNI continue to PROTECT themselves & those involved.#NoStoneUnturned pic.twitter.com/6AYMLrhR1q
— Sarah (@Sal_feeko) October 2, 2019
I've watched #nostoneunturned many times however the reality of Britain's dirty war in Ireland never fails to sicken me. Collusion has been proven to have been carried out at the highest level of British intelligence & the trail goes back to 10 Downing St.
It is time for truth
— Chris McCaffrey (@CMcCaffrey_) October 2, 2019