Documenting the Troubles: Journalism and justice over N Ireland

On August 31, 2018, Northern Irish journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey awoke to loud knocks at the doors of their Belfast homes. “My street outside my home was filled with police,” McCaffrey told The Listening Post’s Daniel Turi.

“They informed me they wanted to search my house for materials relating to the documentary, No Stone Unturned. The first thing they did was they sought to seize all digital materials: mobile phones, laptops, computers.” No Stone Unturned, directed by Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney, investigates the Loughinisland massacre – the killing of six unarmed Catholics in 1994 – towards the end of Northern Ireland’s 30-year sectarian conflict known as “the Troubles”.

The paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) claimed responsibility for the attack, but no one was ever brought to trial. No Stone Unturned presents new evidence – principally, a confidential draft of a report written by a police ombudsman, that states, during their original investigation, police identified one of their suspects as an informant embedded in the UVF.

Birney, the film’s producer, and McCaffrey, an investigative journalist, were arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), a branch of the UK police force, but have not so far been charged. Among the reasons given by the PSNI for their arrests was suspected “unlawful disclosure of information” under the UK Official Secrets Act. At the time of writing, they are serving bail and have won permission to challenge the legality of the search warrants used.

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