Press Release: A grandson of two of the McGurk’s Bar victims has discovered a previously undisclosed covert British Army operation in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar on the night of the atrocity.
Author, Ciarán MacAirt, discovered a covert British Army “ambush OP” [ambush observation post] in York Street which intersected the target area and escape route of the bombers who murdered 15 civilians in McGurk’s Bar on 4th December 1971. Two children were among the dead.
The discovery follows a targeted request under the Freedom of Information Act for specific British Army battalion logs covering the area of McGurk’s Bar and a subsequent Public Interest Test.
Partially redacted Serial 33 of the British Army logs for the 2nd Battalion of Royal Regiment of Fusiliers show that C Company reported to its Headquarters at Glenravel, close to McGurk’s Bar, at 1645 around 4 hours before the bomb:
“Accidental discharge in the York St ambush OP”
Every historical investigation from the Police Service Northern Ireland, Historical Enquiries Team and the Office of the Police Ombudsman denied the existence of any British military unit in the area, let alone a covert, offensive British Army operation.
Ciarán MacAirt said:
“This new evidence is proof that there was a covert, British Army operation in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar on the night our loved ones were murdered. It is also proof that previous historic investigations had either failed to find it or covered it up. We demand to know what it was doing in the area and what it reported.”
“A planned British Army offensive ambush operation in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar on 4th December 1971 would explain a British military Out-of-Bounds (OOB) for the area as we have again long argued. What that covert operation was is obviously essential. Which British military unit manned it may be critical too.”
“We may expect it was a unit of C Company 2 RRF but previous files I discovered and published proved that the Military Reaction Force led a similar covert operation with 2 RRF the night before, close-by at the Mater Hospital.”
“I have asked the British Ministry of Defence which military unit or units it deployed for this covert ambush OP and what its operational orders were. York Street intersected the area between the bomb explosion and the area in Little York Street where the bombers abandoned their car and may have overlooked both.”
Watch McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Post-Script
Target Gem Bar
We know from the files that British Military Intelligence considered the Gem Bar the most important Official IRA target in North Belfast and had raided it two nights before the UVF targeted it.”
We also know from the battalion files I secured previously that Gallaher’s Factory, York Street, was a British Military Key Point (KP) and often used as a British Army observation post as the building offered a commanding view of the area including the Gem and McGurk’s Bar.
As the British Army planned an offensive ambush operation that night, that would explain a British military out-of-bounds (OOB) for the area as we have again long argued. One of the two main reasons for a British military OOB was the deployment of a covert operation (the other was a suspected ambush by the enemy).
What that covert operation was is obviously essential. Which British military unit manned it may be critical too.
Which Covert British Military Unit?
We may expect it was a unit of C Company 2 RRF but files, which I discovered and published, proved that the Military Reaction Force was leading a covert operation with 2 RRF the night before, close-by at the Mater Hospital.
Regardless, this new evidence is proof that there was a covert, British Army operation in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar on the night our loved ones were murdered; and that previous historic investigations had either failed to find it or covered it up. We demand to know what it was doing in the area, which unit manned it and what reported.
Notes for Editors
– Ciarán MacAirt is a grandson of John and Kathleen Irvine. Kathleen was killed and John badly injured but survived. MacAirt is author of the book, The McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-up and a Campaign for Truth.
– MacAirt is also manager of the charity, Paper Trail (Legacy Archive Research) which is funded by Victims and Survivors Service and PEACE IV to offer advocacy support to victims and survivors of the conflict.
– MacAirt released this new evidence along with other articles of new information during an exclusive webinar for Virtual Féile an Phobail which you can watch here.
– For further information on the discovery of documents relating to the deployment of the Military Reaction Force the night before the McGurk’s Bar Massacre and its covert operation at the Mater Hospital, visit http://www.papertrail.pro/where-was-mrf-when-mcgurks-bar-was-bombed/
– If you have any further questions or need more information, email Ciarán MacAirt firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com