ICO Complaints – Kitson, British Army and Cops Collusion

The families of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre have lodged three separate complaints with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

All three complaints to the ICO regard police and British Army collusion in the cover-up of the atrocity and one man at the centre – General Sir Frank Kitson.

  1. One complaint is against the British Army;
  2. One against the Police Service Northern Ireland; and
  3. One against the Office of the Police Ombudsman.

They all regard a cover-up of critical evidence today, more than half a century after the McGurk’s Bar Massacre of 4th December 1971 which claimed the lives of 15 civilians including two children.

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McGurk's Bar Families Protest Policing Board

Each complaint to ICO centres on police lies about the innocent victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre which can be traced back to a secret agreement hours after the bombing between then Brigadier Frank Kitson, British Army, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary to fabricate and promote “a line” that the explosion was the result of a Republican own-goal and not an attack by pro-state Loyalist extremists.

In 2018, I discovered a record of the secret agreement in British military files following a protracted information battle against the British Ministry of Defence and The National Archives.

Among previously unpublished and uninvestigated evidence I found was this horrific proof of British Army and RUC collusion.

At 1am on 5th December 1971 – just over 4 hours after the McGurk’s Bar explosion and before many of the victims had even been identified – the British Army recorded an order from then Brigadier Frank Kitson in the Brigade Commander’s Diary:

“RUC have a line that the bomb in the pub was a bomb designed to be used elsewhere, left in the pub to be picked up by Provisional IRA. Bomb went off and was a mistake. RUC press office have a line on it – NI should deal with them”.

This is the earliest record that I have discovered of the infamous disinformation regarding the victims and survivors of the atrocity.

No previous historic investigation by the RUC, Police Service Northern Ireland, Historical Enquiries Team or Office of the Police Ombudsman (PONI) recorded this secret agreement between the British Army Commander of Belfast and the RUC in their failed investigations and reports.

They either failed to find this critical evidence or found it and buried it again.

Therefore, I have asked the MOD, PSNI and PONI about the provenance of these egregious lies and the details of the secret agreement between the British Army and RUC.

What should be a simple request for information relating to the murder of 15 civilians including children, has instead resulted in 3 separate complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

  1. The British Ministry of Defence told me it does not have any information relating to the secret agreement between Kitson, the British Army and the RUC;
  2. The Police Service Northern Ireland Neither Confirmed, Nor Denied it had the information;
  3. Whilst, the Office of the Police Ombudsman said it has the information, but the families are not getting it.

Where collusion ends and incompetence begins, we do not know, but the cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre continues to this very day.

Update: PSNI has since reassessed its response to the families and has placed the Office of the Police Ombudsman in an unenviable position - more on that this week.

The cover of the new book by Ciarán MacAirt called Trope


Support the work of the charity, Paper Trail.

The author Ciarán MacAirt is donating all of the profits of his book, Trope: Essays and Articles, to Paper Trail and its work with victims and survivors of the conflict, including the families of the McGurk's Bar Massacre.

Trope features some of his ground-breaking discoveries and represents a personal journey as he trudges across the killing fields of World War 1 to the back-streets of Belfast where death-squads roamed. In it, he asks whether General Sir Frank Kitson who helped cover up the McGurk's Bar Massacre was a British military hero or director of terrorism. Foreword by Father Sean McManus, international human rights activist, author, and President of the Irish National Caucus.