Attorney General Orders New Inquests for Massacre Victims

The Attorney General of Northern Ireland has ordered new inquests for victims of the McGurk's Bar Massacre.

In a landmark decision, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland has ordered new inquests for victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.

15 civilians including 2 children were murdered in the no-warning Loyalist bomb attack on McGurk’s Bar on 4th December 1971. Despite forensic and witness evidence – and before the families had even identified all of their loved ones – the police and British Army blamed the victims for the atrocity.

The families have long suspected that the British armed forces had foreknowledge of the attack and/or could have prevented it.

The Attorney General for Northern Ireland, Brenda King, informed the family of Edward and Sarah Keenan via their family representative Niall Ó Murchú that she:

“Considered the submissions and documents provided and has decided that it is advisable to order a new inquest into their deaths.”

Ciarán MacAirt, a grandson of two of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre victims, submitted a file of new evidence he discovered through archive research in public records and targeted requests via the Freedom of Information Act.

This new evidence included secret British military logs which previous historical investigations either missed or deliberately ignored. These logs pinpointed the location of British Army observation posts [OP] including a covert “ambush OP” in the vicinity of the Massacre.

The British armed forces had previously denied the presence of any of its units in the area.

The Attorney General informed Mr. Ó Murchú:

“Investigation of the actions or inactions of the army in the period before the bombing occurred is incomplete.”

“It is apparent from the copies of the military logs shared with the Attorney that there were military observation posts near to the area where the Keenans met their deaths.”

“The Attorney agrees that it seems that the Historical Enquiries Team did not access all the available records before reaching its conclusion that there was no intelligence received prior to the bombing which could have prevented the murders…”

“The Attorney also notes that the Historical Enquiries Team report has now been quashed by the High Court and so reliance cannot, in any event, properly be placed on its findings.”

“The Attorney considers that an inquest would provide a forum in which the actions of the army prior to the bombing could be explored.”

The Attorney General’s decision to order a new inquest comes days before Britain’s disgraceful Legacy Act on May 1st 2024 will deny the families of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre – and hundreds of bereaved families like them – any inquest.

Gerard Keenan was 13 years of age when he was orphaned and watched the recovery of bodies from McGurk’s Bar. He said:

“Our families welcome the historic decision of the Attorney General to direct a new inquest as all the families have campaigned with great dignity for over 52 years for scraps of truth and justice from the British state. Like many other bereaved families now, though, we face the reality that the British state will not allow this inquest to go ahead as it desperately wants to stop us from discovering why our loved ones were murdered in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre and how it failed to prevent it.”

Ciarán MacAirt said:

“Even before we buried our loved ones in those dark days of 1971, the British state buried the truth. The British state’s shameful Legacy Act in 2024 is another attempt by a serial human rights abuser to bury the truth. Our families will not roll over and surrender to this latest British attack on our basic human rights. We will continue to fight for equal access to due process of the law and demand an Article 2-compliant inquest. We reject any attempt by the British state to dress up the likes of the so-called Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery as a substitute for a proper, just investigation. My work too will continue unabated.”

Niall Ó Murchú said:

“This is a poignant reminder of the power of family campaigning and the fact that legal processes – however slow – can work if not shut down by the British state. The British government and its Ministry of Defence have spent £ millions covering up their involvement in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre and its aftermath. Even after more than half a century, an inquest may offer the families an opportunity for truth and justice but now, of course, they first must fight for the repeal of the shameful Legacy Act, Britain’s latest attempt to bury its war crimes in Ireland.”


The McGurk’s Bar atrocity, 4h December 1971, resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians including two children, Maria McGurk (14) and James Cromie (13).

Ciarán MacAirt is a grandson of two of the victims. MacAirt’s grandmother, Kathleen Irvine, was murdered in the attack and his grandfather, John, badly injured.

Related story: Covert British Army Operation Discovered in Vicinity of McGurk’s Bar

Related Story: General Sir Frank Kitson Implicated in McGurk’s Bar Massacre

Related Story: Chief Constable, Prove Police Lies or Admit Fabrication

Boutcher and Shillington

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.