ESPN 30 for 30

Still seeking justice in the ‘Ceasefire Massacre’ (2014)

The goal of Ceasefire Massacre is to raise awareness of a 1994 mass shooting in Northern Ireland which remains unsolved, likely due to a police or government coverup.

This short documentary is an ESPN 30 for 30 TV episode that aired just before the 20th anniversary of the Loughinisland Massacre. Like the ESPN film Hillsborough, this episode interviews victims seeking justice. But sadly the film can only raise questions, because without a legitimate investigation, there are no answers.

On June 18, 1994, around 24 Catholic patrons were in the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, a small town in Northern Ireland. They were watching Ireland beat Italy in a WC 1994 game being held in New York. During the second half, 2 masked men shot up the pub, killing 6 and wounding 5 people. The shooters are thought to have been Protestant Loyalists who are assumed to be shielded from prosecution by Northern Ireland police or British military.

Besides raising questions, American director Alex Gibney and Irish producer Trevor Birney successfully capture the Irish fan enthusiasm at the games and the background that may have led to the targeting of this small pub. Alex Gibney has created numerous highly regarded documentaries. In fact, the only reason I found this film was because I had just watched his excellent HBO film Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

Gibney says unraveling big lies takes years.

“The best documentaries are made for the long haul. They say something important. But if they provoke authorities to stop abuses? Good.”

– Director Alex Gibney

One thing I found a little confusing was the title of the film. This shooting and a retaliatory assault 6 days later on another pub contributed to the Aug-1994 announcement that Sinn Fein would eventually cease operations. The Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement would be reached in 1998, but there was no ceasefire in effect at the time of these shootings.

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6