No Stone Unturned (PG)
The euphoria experienced by six people in a bar in the village of Loughlinisland, Co. Down, shortly after Ray Houghton scored an unforgettable goal against Italy in a World Cup match on June 18, 1994, was short-lived. Soon afterwards three UVF men burst through the door and mowed them down mercilessly.
The atrocity signalled the end of the ‘tit for tat’ killings that had been the hallmark of The Troubles up until then. Not too long afterwards the Good Friday Agreement drew a line in the political sand. But that didn’t make it any easier to take.
What hurt almost as much as the killings was the fact that nobody was ever charged with them. Compare that with the treatment meted out to innocent people who were wrongfully arrested for violence from the republican side like the Guildford Four or the Birmingham Six.
No doors were battered down to apprehend these thugs. Arrests were made but those arrested were advised of such matters beforehand to allow them to destroy any evidence the RUC might have ‘discovered’ on their premises. The arrests were tokenistic sops, so much cosmetic red tape.
The killers’ getaway car broke down on the way from the pub. It was abandoned in a field as they made their escape on foot. They left a gymbag behind them with guns and balaclavas in it. And a hair follicle. They also left the murder rifle.
This was a forensic scientist’s banquet but it went for nothing. Evidence from the field was either ignored or disposed of. More worryingly, the car itself was destroyed, thereby sacrificing the kind of DNA material that would surely have tied the perpetrators to the crime.
Why? Because the RUC was in cahoots with the UVF. So was the British government. “This went all the way to the top,” says one of the bereaved in Alex Gibney’s compulsive documentary. She reminds one of a character from the Woodward & Bernstein exposé, All the President’s Men.
Like that groundbreaking film, this bears all the hallmarks of a whodunit. When the ‘who’ is finally revealed, we learn that it was his conscience-stricken wife who ‘shopped’ him. But even then nothing was done. He continues to walk the streets today. (With a heavy sense of irony we learn he now runs an “exterminator” firm.)
The fact that this man (and his partners) have been named and shamed goes some way towards mitigating the grief of those traumatised by the slaughter. In another way it compounds the agony.
Their lives were changed, changed utterly on that fateful night when a hail of bullets wiped out their loved ones’ lives in cold blood. The failure to apprehend those responsible was an epic failure on the part of the powers-that-be. To date nobody has been willing to come out with their hands up and say “mea culpa”.
The stone remains unturned by those with blood on their hands.