Legal Proceedings against the Office of the Police Ombudsman

Pree Release: McGurk’s Bar families begin legal proceedings against the Office of the Police Ombudsman.

Families of those killed and injured in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre have been forced to initiate legal proceedings against the Office of the Police Ombudsman for its:

  • (1) Failure to complete a 2015 complaint regarding serious allegations against present policing of Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) and its deliberate mishandling of its investigation into the McGurk’s Bar Massacre. This was a complaint of alleged misfeasance in public office and perverting the course of justice which named the Chief Constable of PSNI and his then Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris.  Harris is now Gardaí Commissioner;
  • (2) Failure to investigate new evidence discovered by the families and refusal to retrieve potentially critical, new information, which the families had discovered in redacted and closed files;

Today (3rd March 2021), family campaigner, Gerard Keenan, and legal representative, Niall Ó Murchú of Kinnear and Co. Solicitors handed over legal correspondence to the Office of the Police Ombudsman. Gerard was orphaned when his parents perished in the attack.

The legal action also follows the recent discoveries of critical new evidence by Ciarán MacAirt including archival proof that:

  • (A) The British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) knew within hours that the seat of the explosion was in the hallway of McGurk’s Bar and not in the main bar (meaning the bar was attacked as witnesses testified);
  • (B) The McGurk’s Bar lie that blamed the explosion on the innocent civilians in the bar can be traced in British Military files to collusion between the RUC and then Brigadier Frank Kitson;
  • (C) There were British Army units in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar comprising also a covert British military operation and “ambush OP” [Observation Post]. British Security Force presence in the area was denied by successive investigations including the Office of the Police Ombudsman.
  • (D) The British Army recorded suspect cars reported to have been involved in the attack including the bomber’s car leaving the vicinity;
  • (E) There was a high-level, coordinated and sustained plot by senior members of the RUC, British Army and Civil Service to deceive two Parliaments about the true circumstances of the bombing and the pro-state perpetrators of the mass-murder.
Paper Trail Reports

You can download these Paper Trail reports for FREE:

Read>> The McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Post-Script

Read>> The McGurk’s Bar Bombing and the Plot To Deceive Two Parliaments


Family campaigner, Ciarán MacAirt said:

“We have been forced to launch these legal proceedings as the Police Ombudsman wilfully failed to investigate critical evidence in the police cover-up of a mass murder of innocent civilians.”

“The Police Ombudsman has also wilfully failed to investigate serious allegations we raised over 5 years ago regarding chronic failures in today’s Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

“In August 2020, the Police Ombudsman told the media that ‘the public must have confidence that the police provide my Office with all the information it asks for’ and that she and the Chief Constable ‘agree such disclosure is central to confidence in both organisations.’”

“I find those statements pathetic considering our families have been forced to find critical evidence of the police cover-up ourselves; her Office has failed to investigate this information; and refused to retrieve closed files not made available to OPONI in its original investigation.”

“Either PSNI and OPONI failed to find this critical evidence or found it and buried it again. We do not know where collusion ends, and incompetence begins. What we do know is that the Office of the Police Ombudsman – as it is managed by Marie Anderson and resourced by the British state – is not fit for purpose.”

Niall Ó Murchú of Kinnear and Co. Solicitors said:

“These families have been extremely patient with OPONI despite chronic failings in its investigation and its treatment of the families over 15 years. Since the families raised this serious complaint in October 2015, OPONI promised much and delivered nothing. Time is running out for this Police Ombudsman. Apology after apology for the delays and failures to date are meaningless now. Her refusal to do her job or deliver on her promises are retraumatizing the McGurk’s Bar families. Action needs to be taken now to stop this ending up before the courts.”


Gerard Keenan at the McGurk's Bar Memorial after the Office of the Police Ombudsman

Note to Editors

Contact Niall Ó Murchú or telephone 07516555567; Ciarán MacAirt via email at or telephone 02895 818 575;

Information for Editors

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

–        Gerard Keenan’s mummy and daddy, Sarah and Edward Keenan were two of those murdered.

–        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.

–        You can access information relating to recent discoveries made by Ciarán MacAirt here.

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