On June 18th 1994, Ireland faced off against Italy in a World Cup Match. Millions were watching, eyes fixed to the screen as Ireland delivered a standout performance. But for the residents of Loughinisland, County Down, Northern Island it was a day that would change their lives forever. During the match two gunmen walked into the village pub and killed six Catholic men. The community was devastated. They were promised that no stone would be left unturned in the search for the perpetrators and that, once they were surely found, they would sentenced to long prison sentences. And yet, in the 24 years since the horrific event, no one has been prosecuted. There has been no closure for the families Dan McCreanor (54), Adrian Rogan (34), Patsy O’Hare (35), Barney Green (87), Malcolm Jenkinson (54) and Eamonn Byrne (39). Their many, many questions left unanswered. It seemed so impossible, how could a tragedy that received worldwide coverage not result in justice?
American documentary-maker Alex Gibney (best known for 2015’s Going Clear: Scientology & The Prison of Belief) exposes and unravels the complicated web of events that prevented the truth from being known. In this compelling documentary he explores just why such carnage remained unsolved. Although the initial investigation was quick to identify that the gunmen were part of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) their actual identities seemingly remained unknown. Gibney’s research gradually untangles all the elements and interlinked parties who needed to cover up the truth.
The film opens with a reconstruction of the carnage, accompanied by talking head footage of the victims families and a survivor. There are then grisly photos of the actual scene. It’s made clear that although this event occurred in the midst of great conflict with Northern Ireland, The Troubles, this event was unlike any other. The needlessness of the violence is emphasised, as is the impact it had on a community that was seemingly far removed from what was happening in the cites. What is clear from hearing the families is that moving on at all has been impossible, too much remains unknown or unspoken to allow any resolution.
The rest of the documentary then looks at, more examines than investigates, the wider picture – of what was going on within the rest of Northern Ireland and how it impacted, both in the lead-up and the aftermath. The main thread Gibney explores is the concept of ‘collusion’ – of the belief that the UVF had ties to the Northern Ireland police, who were viewed as an extension of the British military and therefore the British government. Gibney provides much convincing evidence for this being the case remained unsolved. These claims are not revelatory necessarily yet they do led to a semblance of closure for the families, as Gibney is able to provide them with information they would not have received otherwise.
Whilst the documentary even-handedly explores the factors that delayed closure for so long, the strength of the documentary comes from its ability to tell the victims stories so clearly and profoundly. These families have fought for answers for over two decades, lives were put on hold whilst so much remained unknown and their search for justice seemed ignored. Gibney’s documentary may just help some of those wounds heal.
o Dir: Alex Gibney
o Scr: Alex Gibney
o Country: UK/USA
o Year: 2017
o Run time: 111 minutes
‘No Stone Unturned‘ is out from Monday 8th January.