Loughlinisland: A Family Expose by Donal Lavery

A wise man once said that “there is no such thing as objectivity in political journalism.” Therefore, I would like to make clear in writing this that I am someone who has been affected by the whole Loughlinisland affair. Indeed, my family have been referenced in the explosive but remarkable 2017 documentary that is “No Stone Unturned.” But I will try to be both human and humane about such matters as I write.

We as a family received the Police Ombudsman’s report into the murder of my grandfather’s youngest brother, Martin Lavery – who was shot to death by Loyalists while joyously wrapping Christmas presents with his children. That very moment destroyed the lives of not only his youngsters and wife, but his wider family circle. Having to bury a relative in such circumstances only a few days around Christmas itself, is a gut-wrenching misery which I would wish upon no one. I was only a child when all this happened, but I certainly recall the impact, for it carried with it a darkness and depression which no human being or family should ever have to shoulder. The hurt has never healed. 

To this day, Christmas remains a very difficult time for us. We focus on the decorations and festive spirit as a means of blocking out the heartache of what happened. Particularly given that the victim had no involvement with any paramilitary organisation. He was murdered simply because he was a Catholic, and he also happened to be related to a Sinn Fein Councillor. Left like a proverbial ‘sitting duck’, he was gunned down repeatedly, shot after shot, while his children and wife screamed for help, with the blood spattering over the room, the Christmas tree and the presents. When passing that house to this day, a shiver runs down my spine. It was a political-oriented assassination in cold blood, letting nationalist people know that if they voted a certain way or stood for election on a particular platform, they and their family could expect the same counter-insurgency bloodbath that was dished out to us. Such an act was more akin to the Contras and CIA right-wing death squads in Latin America; in exception to somewhere that is alleged, by the same Government, to be a constituent member of the “United Kingdom” – with all the apparent rights and responsibilities that includes.

However, you may be wondering how this tragedy is related to the other awful tragedy that is Loughlinisland. Indeed, the killing of a pensioner in his 80’s harmlessly watching a football match is a crime so grotesque that words fail me in my analysis of an act beyond the spectrum of human morality. Indeed, even Myra Hindley would potentially have balked at such a twisted deed. But the question is not who pulled the trigger, for psychopaths exist in every society, rather so, who gave the order. Who authorised the murder of innocent civilians in this instance and others? And why?
Nationalist people were back then accustomed to an administrative culture of “shoot to kill” incidents by security force personnel and their Loyalist proxies during the conflict. Confirmed by Manchester Policeman John Stalker, it was common knowledge that the RUC was acting as a paramilitary unit consumed by their “Special Branch” hierarchy. The media, ever the servants of the state, were systematically undermining the allegations that such a policy was being authorised by state actors. Where ‘ballsy’ journalists did document and highlight such massacres, they were routinely ignored or denied by Direct Rule Ministers and those charged with operating the law and maintaining order. It was a sick model of corruption endemic to the body politic of the time, which I suspect touched levels of violence and evil that even the British handlers found hard to contain. 

That, however, is history. The conflict is over, thank God. The Peace Agreements are now international law. But the victims families haven’t gone away. And won’t be going away until we get the answers and accountability regarding the lethal malpractices of that era.I mention this precisely because, as a family, we were presented with a Police Ombudsman’s report detailing how Martin’s murder was linked to Loughlinisland by the very weapons that were used. We were also informed that the ‘then’ police were aware that Martin was to be killed in advance, but did nothing to stop it – leaving him and his family to the tender mercies of ‘Loyalist killers ’. 

When my grandfather retired from the Council, he stated to the local media that he had worked alongside a Council member who he had been told was alleged to be directly involved in the killing. He showed no bad manners in his conduct towards this individual, but it was heavily suspected that they had driven the getaway vehicle. This person is still alive and I believe could provide some insight into these events, if they wanted or if they were subpoenaed to do so under oath. 

The fact remains, the guns used in these acts were transported about the ‘province’ and were utilised in the planned killing of other innocent people. There was no real attempts made to confiscate or inhibit their use by the RUC and no real political pressure placed on the security forces to catch these killers. That is the deadly fact which the journalists in question happened to so successfully highlight. The then Secretary of State, certainly no neutral arbitrator – Mr Mayhew himself was privy to a Medical Council investigation into child sexual abuse by the notorious paedophile Psychiatrist Dr. Morris Frazer (who used his position in Belfast’s Royal Hospital to gain easy access to children), where the Government Minister seemingly appeared in defence of this monster’s character and possibly to intimidate the investigation members – resulting in a continuation of his advances on children and direct involvement in the Kincora Boy’s Home scandal, while Cabinet Ministers turned a blind eye.

Mayhew was a prominent actor within what is called in some circles, the “Deep State.” 

In referencing this, what I hope to outline to anyone reading is that the journalists themselves, who have undoubtedly discovered this up close and personal, successfully and factually exposed elements of this same “deep state” that was in play here and at the Cabinet table in London, as well as intervention by their allies in MI5. They took the risk of highlighting to you that a government, alleged to be democratic and accepting of the rule of law, was directly implicated in these awful murders. That state actors, many of whom are still around, conducted these killings without any thought regarding the human rights of their targets. The whole fiasco by the PSNI in arresting these men, has had the unintended effect of rallying even more people to their side (including a former British Cabinet Minister himself and SAS man – David Davis MP). For the simple fact remains, we aren’t going away and we want nothing short of the truth. Whistleblowing and uncovering the truth is difficult in almost any situation, but when you are up against your “own government”, the odds are massive, if not frightening to the core. 

Not only should the journalists involved be compensated and apologised to for their appalling maltreatment and widespread state intimidation, but also should we the public have the granting of an independent “truth and reconciliation commission” to allow for anyone involved to provide and procure answers to these catastrophic events. For such a precedent does exist, not only in South Africa but also at a European level. When a similar state terrorism campaign against ETA members and their families was exposed in Spain by journalists, namely the “GAL affair”, Cabinet Ministers in the government of Felipe Gonzalez even went to jail for their direct involvement in political assassinations and violence against their fellow European citizens. Such a process and transparency, including a public body that will have “teeth” and sway; that and only that, will give victims families some sense of clarity, if not closure regarding these heartbreaking matters.”


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