Victims may be dead by the time alleged 1992 collusion at UVF pub is investigated, court hears

Survivors of a loyalist gun attack on a village pub 30 years ago may not be alive by the time detectives begin investigating alleged security collusion with paramilitary assassins, the High Court heard.

Lawyers for a bartender who narrowly escaped injury at the Tierafurt Hotel in Kilkoo, Ko Downe, said that not conducting a fully independent investigation into the shooting violated his human rights.

One man, 42-year-old Peter McCormack, was killed when the UVF gang broke in and opened fire during a darts tournament.

Several other visitors were injured in an attack in November 1992.

John McAvoy, who developed PTSD after the shooting, is seeking judicial review of the PSNI Chief Constable for alleged failure to provide an independent and effective investigation.

His summons is based on information that he says points to collusion between members of the security forces and the UVF operating in the south Daun area at the time.

This followed the publication in 2016 of the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Lafiniland massacre.

In this attack, loyalist gunmen killed six Catholics who were watching a World Cup football match between Ireland and Italy in June 1994.

It has been argued that a documentary about the Lafini Island murders that names the suspects, No Stone Unturned, strengthens the case for a fully independent investigation.

Although the PSNI Legacy Investigation Division (LIB) should reconsider the circumstances of the Tierafurt hotel shooting, Mr. McAvoy’s lawyer said there would be an unlawful delay stretching for years.

The court learned that the attack was 542nd in line under the LIB case-sequence model, with no indication of when it would be considered due to limited resources.

Hugh Southey QC argued: “There seems to be no reason to believe that this investigation will begin in a few years.

“This is about families. Mr. McEvoy notes that two of the victims have died since the start of the trial, which obviously raises fears that they will not see justice.”

Judge Humphreys was told that the suspects had been named in the documentary and that the one identified as Person A had been identified as allegedly involved in the attack on the Tierafurt hotel.

The lawyer also cited a newspaper article published earlier this year that claimed that another of those named “No stone unturned” in connection with the Lafhini Island massacre, Persona I, received weapons training from a member of the military.

As his client alleges that the current police are planning to violate Article 2 rights under European law, Mr Sauty added: “It is not clear what measures, if any, will be taken to ensure ex-military members are not involved in the investigation.”

However, Tony McGlinan QC, Chief Constable insisted there were no allegations of theatrical agents or imported weapons being involved in the pub shooting.

“What we have here is a very abstract suggestion of collusion on the part of the applicant, but they do not carry signs that the court will be familiar with in the context of other probate cases,” he said.

Mr McGlynan argued that there were “no specialties” in the allegations of security forces involvement made immediately after the attack or in the ombudsman’s report.

Speaking about the independence of any police investigation, he told the court: “LIB can now assemble an investigation team with no military or RUC experience.

“They can create a team completely unrelated to any of the state bodies, if it is justified.”

Retaining his judgment in recusal, Mr Judge Humphreys indicated that he planned to watch the film No Stone Upon a Stone before making his decision.

Outside of court, Mr. McAvoy’s lawyer, Gavin Booth, said the case “requires a proper independent investigation.”

He added: “Serious allegations of attempted murder have appeared in our courts, and to date the only people arrested have been the journalists who made the film.”