Research and Archives
Below are critical archives discovered and released, not by the British authorities, but by the families and human rights organisations. Without our extensive research, these documents would never have been accessed or published.
Our story – the truth – would never have been told.
British explosive experts who “happened” upon the scene of the massacre record the fact that the bomb was “outside” the main bar area and not inside as later black propaganda stated. This archive was discovered by the families in 2009 and was written for the General Officer Commanding British troops at the time, Lt. Gen. Sir Harry Tuzo. Access the archive
The first instance of black propaganda discovered in RUC files and written a few hours after the atrocity. The main body of the archive was accessed by the British Irish Rights Watch which allowed the families to retrieve its front cover, title page and authors, thus proving that it was an RUC report lodged in the John Taylor’s Ministry of Home Affairs. In it the police proffer (with complete disregard to evidentiary fact) the IRA bomb-in-transit and own-goal theory. Access the archive
In the News 5th – 6th December 1971
“Police and Army Intelligence Officers believe that… an explosion in a Belfast bar last night was caused by an IRA plan that went wrong… [The] Army believe bomb was in transit.”
John Chartres, The Times, 5th December 1971
“The RUC is of the opinion that the bomb was brought into the bar earlier in the night and that a Provisional IRA man was to have set it off somewhere in the city later… The RUC last night rejected reports put about by Republican sources that the bomb was left outside the bar by the UVF”
Newsletter, 6th December 1971
Two days after the atrocity, Brian Faulkner, Northern Ireland Prime Minister at the time, flew to meet with Reginald Maudling, British Home Secretary, for crunch talks on security. The startling notes of the meeting, discovered by Pat Finucane Centre at the National Archives, show in stark terms how the cover-up went right to the top of the political establishment. Faulkner advances the IRA own-goal black propaganda and brazenly admits to political interference in an RUC investigation. Access the archive
The infamous speech by John Taylor, Minister of State for Home Affairs, to Stormont. He parrots the RUC black propaganda in the Duty Officers’ Report above, including the use of an incorrect address for the pub, and goes on to insinuate that it was an IRA own-goal: “The plain fact is that the evidence of the forensic experts supports the theory that the explosion took place within the confines of the walls of the building”. Forensics were not completed until February 1972.
We have asked Mr. Taylor a simple question: Are you a patsy or a liar? To this day he has not made himself amenable to questioning by the police investigations or debate with us. Access the archive
Yet another staggering piece of British military black propaganda discovered by the families. Not only were we able to trace this first instant of the lie that had criminalized the innocent victims as bomb-makers, but we also proved that this archive was managed by the Director of Intelligence and his team. This section in HQNI was made up of MI5 operatives and Military Intelligence Officers which adds yet another dimension to the cover-up. Access the archive
This document’s significance is not only due to its inclusion of further black propaganda that criminalizes innocent civilians. It is critical as it records how the upper echelon of the British military wished to enlist the Minister of State for Defence to peddle the RUC lie in parliament. This archive, discovered by the Pat Finucane Centre, shows military primacy in action. Access the archive
Discovered by the families, this archive proves that the original RUC lie is still being included within the Intelligence stream. Nevertheless, this is not what drew the families to target it directly. Not only did we wish to draw out the significance of MI5’s handling of the black propaganda by comparing the Brigade Intelligence Summary with the Headquarters Northern Ireland Summary above. We were also targeting this particular information stream as we knew that it included supplementary intelligence and comment from the RUC. The MoD did not know this and tried to redact this additional stream wholesale which has led us to lodge yet another official complaint with the MoD. Access the archive
Joint Security Committee Minutes 16th December 1971
Discovered by the families in the Public Records Office but withheld from them due to National Security restrictions that were imposed immediately by the authorities, this archive includes a briefing from the RUC Chief Constable to the British military elite and Northern Ireland cabinet ministers. This archive find has since been described as “critical” evidence by the Police Ombudsman, Al Hutchinson.
The families targeted these as the Joint Security Committee Conclusions had made no mention of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre at all and this, obviously, was highly suspect. Here we have the RUC and Special Branch standing in front of their paymasters and presenting their intelligence assessment based on the lie they had created in the police Duty Officer’s Report of 5th December 1971. Without substance or substantiation the RUC criminalize the innocent victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.
Chief Constable Shillington and his head of Special Branch tell the Prime Minister of the day, Brian Faulkner, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, John Taylor, and the General Officer Commanding the British forces, Lt. General Sir Harry Tuzo:“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.”
Damning proof that the families could never expect a fair investigation. The present Chief Constable will now have to answer for this.
Just before Christmas British foot patrols delivered this heinous piece of black propaganda to homes in the New Lodge area, including the homes of mourning families. It was signed by the Commanding Officer of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and rolled off the printing press of the British PsyOps department. Most were ripped up and binned straight away but this one was kept and kindly made available to us by local historian, Mr. Joe Baker. Access the archive
In the News 24th December 1971
“The security men are now convinced that the bar was a transfer point in the IRA chain between the makers and the planters of the bomb.”
Again, discovered by the families, this is the monthly report by the department of the British Ministry of Defence responsible for military operations in Northern Ireland. As this is a report that was sent to Whitehall, it relays how MO4 were looking to deceive their political paymasters in Westminster that the massacre was an IRA own-goal. Interestingly, it mentions the SAS and the Empire Loyalists in the same breath. Access the archive
The statement taken by the RUC from Robert James Campbell. A page and a half was sufficient it seemed for the murder of 15 civilians. In 2010 the families discovered that the interviewing officers had not even been told that intelligence, lodged sixteen months earlier by the head of the RUC’s Criminal Investigation Department, named Campbell and four others as the perpetrators of the massacre. The other four were never arrested or questioned for the McGurk’s Bar Massacre even after Campbell’s involvement was proved correct on his own admission. Access the archive
General Research: Central Policy Review Staff September 1971
Sourced by the families in the National Archives of Kew, shocking facts emerge, as early as September 1971 and so soon after the introduction of Internment without trial: the British Cabinet think-tank, the Central Policy Review Staff (CPRS), chaired by Edward Heath, the Prime Minister, believed that “Past policy in Northern Ireland is in ruins” and the country could become their “Vietnam”. Unfortunately, they did not heed their own warning and the conflict lasted three times longer than the war in South East Asia. Access the archive (PDF 4MB)
General Research: Northern Ireland Policy Group December 1971
Once more sourced by the families from targeted requests under the Freedom of Information Act, these are minutes from the Northern Ireland Policy Group which brought together top British civil servants, politicians and militarists within the Ministry of Defence. These documents are startling, not only because they embody so many missed opportunities for peace if political initiatives had been followed, but also for its record of a British plan to cede Derry, the second city, to the Republic of Ireland. Access the archive 1 | archive 2 | archive 3 | archive 4 | archive 5
This historic find by the Pat Finucane Centre contextualizes Internment and its blatant discrimination of Roman Catholics. It is policy that means that “Protestants are not… arrested with a view to their being made subject to Interim Custody Orders”. In other words, Protestant extremists were not to be interned even though they had killed more than 100 civilians in the year previous. This astonishing document should be read in conjunction with our archive finds above as they all lay bare British policy and military modus operandi at this time. Access the archive
Personal research into the McGurk’s Bar Massacre has uncovered the family history, military career and modern business life of a leader of the shadowy British special force unit, the Military Reaction Force (MRF). This covert operative is a man that the McGurk’s campaigners have long since demanded is questioned regarding British “black ops” at the time of the atrocity and beyond.
This research has been included in the bibliography of the highly regarded conflict archive, CAIN. Access the paper
In preparation for the above essay, the author had traced the evolution of the RUC black propaganda from their Duty Officers’ Report of 5th December 1971, through Governmental and military archives and into the media. Compiled from the research above, it has been broken down into actual quotes so that the reader can easily see how the lie was injected into the intelligence stream and media without substance or substantiation. Access the paper
Our families were invited by the American Helsinki Commission to present their testimony to the world’s political elite on Capitol Hill. Our testimony, in narrative form, lays bare how the British authorities, military and RUC disseminated black propaganda and disinformation into the public consciousness. This testimony, lodged in the American authorities’ records, is now the cornerstone of international pressure on Britain to release targeted information it continues to withhold from us today. Access the archive
- McGurk’s Bar Families Meet With Fianna Fáil Justice and Equality Spokesperson March 21, 2017
- Britain Lied to the European Commission about the McGurk’s Bar Massacre February 22, 2017
- A Gram of Publicity in England is Worth a Tonne in Ireland December 22, 2016