Ulster Killings: 'They couldn't have killed six more decent people'

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The Independent Online
LOUGHINISLAND was the sort of little place that looked as though the world had passed it by. A mere 20 miles from Belfast, it was, until 10.20pm on Saturday night, none the less a million miles away from the troubles. It nestles in Co Down's pretty, fertile drumlin country, one of a surprising number of places which remained virtually untouched by the violence.

A man who lives a few miles away described it thus: 'It's a very quiet place. It's not even a village, it's barely a hamlet. You would drive though it on a day out and you'd say to yourself, 'Ach, this is a lovely wee part of the world'. It's the sort of place where some old fella is sure to wave at you as if he's known you all his life.

'This has remained one of the most civilised areas of Northern Ireland. Okay, there's a few hardliners, but down here even the extremists are comparatively moderate, if you know what I mean.

'Community relations are very good, people mix very well, they're in and out of each other's pubs.'

That was the old Loughinisland. The new Loughinisland came into being at 10.20pm on Saturday night, as described by Patsy Toman, a local Social Democratic and Labour Party councillor: 'When I arrived there was utter chaos. People screaming, grown men crying, wives, girlfriends, mothers not knowing whether their sons were in the bar.

'A man was in there with his son and his son-in-law. All he could do was cradle their heads and try and comfort them. The son-in-law died at the scene, his son died on the way to hospital. I have been at their home this morning. There's children crying, they've lost their father.'

She went on: 'There's an old man of 88 who came in for a quiet drink. His nephew brought him along just to give him an evening out; they'd have come in regular. They're both dead. We have a local man, a well-known fella who worked in the local car place here, came home from holidays yesterday morning. His wife dropped him off, didn't realise he was going to meet his death.

'And then the saddest and the most wicked thing of the whole lot is that these scum who carried out this deed are saying that there was some sort of republican meeting going on.

'The six people they've killed, I know them personally and they couldn't have killed six more innocent, more decent people.'

(Photographs omitted)