The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has promised “substantive developments”in the McGurk’s Bar case sitting in the High Court tomorrow (25th September 2015).
It is a High Court case which the so-called police service forced our families to take in order to quash the ludicrous FOURTH report by the police’s Historical Enquiries Team into the McGurk’s Bar atrocity.
Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, questioned the Chief Constable George Hamilton (right) at a recent meeting of the Policing Board following Hamilton’s attendance at Q&A event at Belfast Féile in August.
During this event, Robert McClenaghan, grandson of Philip Garry, the oldest victim of the McGurk’s Bar massacre, held the Chief Constable to task about the police force’s treatment of the families.
Gerry Kelly wanted to know what steps the Chief Constable had taken to respond to Robert’s questions.
Chief Constable’s Response
As you are aware, the McGurk’s Bar bombing case is before the High Court and therefore any significant steps have to take place in the context of those proceedings. However, I can confirm that I have now considered the case in detail, and taken legal advice. The next hearing is scheduled for 25th September and I am confident that this will involve substantive developments in the case. [author’s highlight]
It’s understandable that the Chief Constable is now cautious as the High Court case tomorrow is critical, and not only to the families but also to the history and reputation of the RUC, his old police force.
Nevertheless, Hamilton’s answer here (and indeed in his office’s correspondence with Robert since then) is a climb-down from his engagement at the community event, if you believed his attendance was anything but PR window-dressing anyway.
The short history of the PSNI has proved that it is not an independent player in the McGurk’s Bar case or any of the thousands of other legacy cases. Its DNA is inextricably linked with that of its predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
The PSNI’s Criminal Enterprise
At best, the PSNI’s role in legacy cases is delay, obfuscation and intransigence. At worst, it is a criminal enterprise, carrying on with the dirty work of the RUC – collusion and cover-up. Perverting the course of justice in legacy cases is the PSNI’s stock-in-trade.
As Relatives for Justice reported, the PSNI’s secret engagement (there are not minutes of the meetings allegedly) with the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association did throw up some telling responses from representatives of today’s police.
Then Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, Judith Gillespie – herself a former member of RUC – told the retired RUC officers:
Our interests are similar… The PSNI is determined to play our part in the defence of the RUC
Then Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI – himself a former member of RUC – told the retired RUC officers:
We don’t disassociate ourselves from what happened in the past. I have great pride in my RUC service.
A Senior Legal Adviser of the PSNI – who definitely speaks as if he was a former member of the RUC – then confirmed to the retired RUC officers:
The bedrock of what we are trying to do is to protect our people, to protect the reputation of the organisation, and to protect people’s security.
The PSNI may have wanted to draw a line in the sand for their RUC buddies, but it has failed to protect the reputation of the RUC. History is a cold judge and history now knows that the RUC was up to its neck in misery-making and has the blood of innocent people on its hands.
So, with all due respect to Chief Constable George Hamilton, I have absolutely no faith in how his so-called Police Service handle any legacy case, especially the murder of my grandmother and 14 other innocent civilians in McGurk’s Bar.
As for his “substantive developments”, I can guarantee readers today before the court case tomorrow that these will be one of a few possibilities as we have backed PSNI/RUC into a dark corner.
By rights, the PSNI legal team will buckle under the sheer weight of evidence – evidence which myself and the likes of the Pat Finucane Centre and Rights Watch UK (formerly British Irish Rights Watch) had to discover and provide from the state’s own records.
I have already lodged affidavits running to hundreds of pages of archive evidence, correspondence and published research with the legal team managing tomorrow’s High Court case, KRW Law.
This includes proof that it was the RUC police force which created the lie that the McGurk’s Bar bombing was a Republican own-goal.
It also includes proof that one of the Chief Constable’s predecessors, George Shillington, deliberately mislead government in 1971 when he told the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, the General Officer Commanding Lt. Gen. Harry Tuzo, and liar/patsy John Taylor, the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the statelet:
Circumstantial evidence indicates that this was a premature detonation and two of those killed were known IRA members, at least one of whom had been associated with bombing activities. Intelligence indicates that the bomb was destined for use elsewhere in the city.
The last Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, could not tell us where these lies came from when we met him, as they were without without substance or substantiation.
We will be looking forward to ask the present Chief Constable the same question when we have a chance to interrogate him but he will not be able to tell us either as the police simply fabricated this intelligence, criminalised innocent civilians and protected pro-state mass murderers.
If we ignore the mountain of evidence I have lodged for a moment (as the Historical Enquiries Team did), the Chief Constable’s legal team will also know that it is now expedient to buckle as otherwise we will be able to hit the cops with a targeted discovery list. Readers of my book will know that I have prepared for this stage for over a decade. If the Chief Constable’s legal team have done their job and read their brief, they will know that I am prepared as well.
I am also very confident that the targeting of a particular information stream, Headquarter Northern Ireland logs, will be a “substantive development” as it has already been in other cases, especially the murder of young mother, Jean Smyth-Campbell, by the British Army’s clandestine Military Reaction Force.
I have discovered the corresponding archive for the month of December 1971 but the authorities have sealed it for 84 years. A very sturdy complaint for access now rests with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), bolstered by the legal advice of our lawyers.
I have given the ICO notice that the office could now be in a situation that it is withholding critical evidence from our families including:
- How the bombing was reported at British Army headquarters
- What witnesses reported
- What abandoned cars were found and fingerprinted
- What military units were in the vicinity
- What was to be reported to the press and what was not
We will get this document at discovery eventually though, and the authorities know this.
Delay, and the Denial of Justice by PSNI
If the RUC/PSNI buckle tomorrow, I believe that it will not be because the organisation is finally bowing to the weight of evidence, but because it does not want to expedite the lodgement of a debilitating discovery list.
For RUC/PSNI, this is the lesser of two evils. It will be little to do with fact or the re-traumatization of ordinary families as it has had no regard for either in its treatment of the McGurk’s Bar victims.
The organisation, though, is simply following standard British policy for these legacy cases – delay as long as possible and hope that the families will die and go away.
This is the context that I will consider Chief Constable George Hamilton’s “substantive developments” in the McGurk’s Bar case when we hear of them tomorrow. No doubt he will not even be able to complete the simple checklist that I prepared for his predecessor, so the best he can hope for is an exercise in damage limitation.
Otherwise, RUC/PSNI will form up and attempt once again to defend the indefensible.
The dirty cops did indeed buckle. The game is afoot!
— BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) September 25, 2015
Ciarán MacAirt is an Irish writer and author of The McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-Up and a Campaign for Truth.
He also manages Paper Trail, an innovative charity and social enterprise which offers legacy archive research services and helps families unearth the truth hidden in public records.