Where Was the British Army’s Death Squad on the Night of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre?

Secret files prove that Britain’s death squad, the Military Reaction Force (MRF), was operating in the streets around McGurk’s Bar.

Newly discovered archives prove that the British Army’s shadowy Military Reaction Force (MRF) was deployed in North Belfast at the time of the McGurk’s Bar bombing. The families have long since questioned where the MRF was on the night of the explosion but successive police and Police Ombudsman investigations have either (1) failed to discover that the covert Special Force unit was deployed to the area at the time; or (2) knew that the MRF was in the area but failed to tell the families.

The families of the McGurk’s Bar victims demand to know where were the British Army’s shadowy Military Reaction Force units on the night of the McGurk’s Bar bombing which claimed the lives of 15 civilians, including 2 children, on 4th December 1971. The families have long-since feared that the covert British Army unit either (1) facilitated the safe passage of the UVF paramilitary gang which bombed McGurk’s Bar; and/or (2) directed British state agents in the UVF gang.

The families’ demand follows the discovery of proof of MRF deployment in a secret British military operations log by Paper Trail manager, Ciarán MacAirt, a grandson of 2 of the victims.

The logs prove that the MRF was attached and reported to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF) which was deployed from October 1971 to February 1972 in the New Lodge and Unity areas of North Belfast.

The logs prove that the MRF was operating covertly with 2RRF in the vicinity on the day and night before the McGurk’s Bar bombing but disappears from the logs on the day of the attack. MRF was deployed to surveil the Mater hospital for Republicans who had escaped from Crumlin Road prison on 2nd December 1971. At 205pm, 3rd December 1971, it is recorded:

“3 men from CRUMLIN are in Mater and will be leaving at approx. 1600 (anon call) – men pos[sibly] dressed as NUNS or NURSES… 2 RRF and MRF info to take action”

At 410pm, MRF reports to 2RRF:

“Suspicious Car Triumph (white) [REDACTED] men outside Courthouse.”

Then at 10pm, less than 24 hours before the McGurk’s Bar bombing, the logs record:

“Surveillance tps [troops] of 2RRF and MRF have withdrawn from Mater Hospital”

Ciarán MacAirt said:

“Our families have questioned the deployment of British troops on the day of the McGurk’s Bar massacre, especially the presence of the British Army’s Military Reaction Force as we believed the state had a hidden hand in the atrocity.”

“Successive police and Police Ombudsman investigations have either failed to discover that the MRF was operating in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar in December 1971 or they deliberately chose to omit this crucial evidence from their botched reports. The covert MRF operation in the logs above was less than ½ mile from McGurk’s Bar on the day before the attack. We now know from these archives that the heightened security alert for the prison escapees was maintained throughout the day of the bombing and the MRF was active in the subsequent security operations so our question is now more valid than ever: where was the MRF on the day and night of the McGurk’s Bar massacre?”

Niall Ó Murchú of Kinnear and Co. Solicitors is legal representative for a number of the McGurk’s Bar families. He said:

“Yet again the families have been proved correct – this time in querying the heightened security in the area and the presence of Britain’s notorious death squad, the Military Reaction Force. This new evidence not only raises serious questions about the role that the British Army played in facilitating the passage of the McGurk’s Bar killers; it also raises serious questions about the professionalism of investigations by the police and Office of the Police Ombudsman as they either failed to find this information or they failed to tell the families that it existed. Neither reflects kindly on them and it is disgraceful that a family member has to find this evidence.”

“It is time that the British state faced up to its legal obligations and stopped protecting its mass-murderers. It can begin with the release of the evidence being withheld in this file and others requested by Ciarán MacAirt.”

Read the Archives on Paper Trail


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