Journalists who investigated Loughinisland massacre for hit documentary arrested in Northern Ireland

Journalists who investigated Loughinisland massacre for hit documentary arrested in Northern Ireland

TWO journalists who worked on a documentary about the 1994 Loughinisland massacre in Northern Ireland have been arrested on suspicion of stealing confidential documents.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney tweeted this morning that Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey had been detained by the PSNI, branding the development "outrageous".

Birney and McCaffrey worked on Gibney’s 2017 documentary No Stone Unturned about the infamous massacre - which saw six Catholic men shot dead at The Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co. Down while watching Ireland’s historic 1-0 win over Italy at the 1994 World Cup.

Their murders were allegedly carried out by a serving British soldier linked with a number of other loyalist killings, a man the documentary claimed was known to police but left alone as part of a cover-up.

The film drew considerable controversy upon its release for naming the suspected gunmen - who was arrested along with his wife after the killings 24 years ago before being released without charge.

Now, two men who spent years investigating the atrocity have been detained in Belfast and are being questioned at Musgrave Police Station.

Director Gibney tweeted earlier: "Alert: @trevorbirney my producer on 'No Stone Unturned', and journalist @Barry_TheDetail have just been arrested in Belfast, NI, for doing good, hard-hitting journalism. Outrageous. Raise ruckus."


The documents allegedly taken relate to the police investigation into the murders and were allegedly used in the research of the film, which was produced by Birney.

Mr Birney, 51, founded Fine Point Films in 2006 after 20 years working for the Impartial Reporter newspaper in Enniskillen, before becoming editor of current affairs at Ulster Television. He has also worked in radio.

The award-winning producer was Oscar-shortlisted for his work on Alex Gibney's previous feature-documentary, 2012's Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God, and has won a justice media award, two Royal Television Society awards and NI Broadcaster of the Year in 2002.

He has produced a number of English and Irish-language programmes on politics and history through his production company Below The Radar, founded in 2006.

Mr McCaffrey, 48, a former Andersonstown News and Irish News reporter, had researched the Loughinisland massacre for over a decade but is arguably best-known for his work related to the 2004 Northern Bank heist in Belfast.

He also previously worked for The Detail - an investigative news website which has carried a number of stories on Loughinisland as well as a number of other historical investigations.

Mr McCaffrey was also handed a justice media award at the Attorney General's Justice Media Awards in 2013 to recognise his investigation into the use of solitary confinement in Northern Ireland's prisons.

In the same year, the 48-year-old was named digital journalist of the year.

This morning's searches linked to the arrests were carried out at Upper Arthur Street - where The Detail news website and Fine Point Films are based.

A number of documents and computer equipment were seized during the raids and will now be examined by specialist officers.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "The theft of these documents potentially puts lives at risk and we will follow the evidence wherever it leads us."