All over the world, pubs and bars are full of people watching the World Cup, drinking, singing, celebrating, commiserating. On this particular day I would like to remember some people who went out to do the same during a previous competition and never came home.
On 18 June 1994, people were watching Ireland play Italy in the Heights bar/O'Toole's, Loughinisland, a small village in County Down in the North of Ireland. Two masked gunmen from the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force burst in and opened fire, killing six men: Eamon Byrne (aged 39), Barney Green (87), Malcolm Jenkinson (53), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O Hare (35) and Adrian Rogan (34). Five others were injured:
"It was in the second half of the match about 10.20 pm and Ireland were leading 1-0 when the two UVF assassins entered the small bar. There was one available entrance and exit and having effectively trapped their victims inside, two members of the death squad started to fire their automatic weapons. Survivors recounted how the masked UVF men moved from one person to another shooting each between two and five times before running out of ammunition. More than 30 shots were fired from the two assault rifles with almost every bullet striking someone at point blank range... On leaving the bar, one of the UVF death squad was heard by one of he survivors shouting 'Well done boys, good job'" (An Phoblact/Republican News, 23 June 1994).
Nobody was ever convicted, and relatives of the victims have campaigned up to the present to find out the truth, with consistent allegations of the involvement of British security force agents in the attack. At the very least, it seems that some police agents knew that the attack was planned, and it also appears that the police destroyed evidence, in particular the getaway car.