A grandson of one of the fifteen civilians murdered in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre has demanded that the Chief Constable of the Police Service Northern Ireland do his job and quash a Historical Enquiries Team report on the atrocity before the 45th anniversary of the attack.

The demand follows the grandson’s discovery of a ground-breaking archive which proved that a British Army bomb expert at the scene informed Army Headquarters that McGurk’s Bar was attacked:

“ATO [Ammunition Technical Officer] is convinced bomb was placed in entrance way on ground floor. The area is cratered and clearly was the seat of the explosion”[1]

The police had sight of this evidence but instead blamed the civilians in the bar:

“At 8.45 p.m. on Saturday, 4th December, 1971, an explosion occurred at McGurk’s Licensed Premises, 83 Great George’s Street. The charge was estimated at 50 lbs completely demolished the two storey building. Just before the explosion a man entered the licensed premises and left down a suitcase, presumably to be picked up by a known member of the Provisional I.R.A. The bomb was intended for use on other premises. Before the ‘pick-up’ was made the bomb exploded.”[2]

Ciarán MacAirt, is a grandson of McGurk’s Bar victims, Kathleen Irvine who died in the attack and her husband, John, who survived. MacAirt says:

“I contacted the present Chief Constable of the Police Service Northern Ireland over a year ago and pleaded that he retrieve this file as I was barred from accessing it for another 40 years. I knew it contained critical evidence relating to my grandmother’s murder and the McGurk’s Bar atrocity which was, at that time, the single greatest loss of civilian life in any murderous attack since the Nazi Blitz of Belfast a generation before.”

Pontius Pilate

“Chief Constable George Hamilton acted like Pontius Pilate and washed his hands of the evidence of a mass murder and police cover-up. Instead, I was informed that the ‘PSNI have exhausted all outstanding lines of inquiry into the McGurk’s bar bombing and there are currently no further investigative steps to be taken’[3]

“I was right. This file proved that the British state and the police perverted the course of justice and covered up the true circumstances of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre, allowing sectarian mass murderers to kill again and again.”

 “All the while in court, the PSNI have defended an indefensible report into the massacre by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team which upheld the original police investigation. This was despite a mountain of evidence, which we discovered, proved that the police actually disseminated lies about the loved ones we lost in the attack. Yet again we evidenced why the PSNI cannot be trusted to investigate any legacy case – its officers either missed all of this evidence or chose to ignore it. Either way, former members of RUC in PSNI are more concerned with upholding the doomed reputation of a sectarian police force in the past that its own reputation today.”

 Another document discovered by MacAirt in 2010 was described as “critical evidence” by the former Police Ombudsman as it proved that the Chief Constable of the RUC misinformed government about the attack. Chief Constable George Shillington told the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner, and the General Officer Commanding the British Army that:

“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.”[4]

This was a heinous lie which has never been substantiated by any investigation up to the present day, including the PSNI’s.

Police Cover-Up

MacAirt says:

“Chief Constable Shillington was guilty of fabricating evidence relating the McGurk’s Bar Massacre. Chief Constable George Hamilton is guilty of ignoring it. We demand he does his job and quashes the HET report, and stops re-traumatizing our families in court. Otherwise, he is helping to perpetuate this police cover-up.”

[1] The Commander’s Diary / Headquarters Northern Ireland Log, 5th December 1971
[2] RUC Duty Officers’ Report, 5th December 1971
[3] Email on behalf of the Chief Constable from Ralph Roche, T/Head of Legal Services Branch, dated 6th October 2015. The contact is reproduced at the end of this document. 
[4] Joint Security Committee Meeting at Stormont, 16th December 1971

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 social enterprise which offers legacy archive research services and helps families unearth the truth hidden in public records.

Ciarán – who has written posts on The McGurk's Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-Up and a Campaign for Truth.


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