Massacre Orphan Calls On Chief Constable To Quash “Irrational” HET Report Before Court
A man whose parents were murdered in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre when he was a child has called on Chief Constable Simon Byrne to quash a failed and “irrational” report into the atrocity before a final court appearance on 16th June 2022.
Gerard Keenan was 12 years of age when his mother and father, Sarah and Edward, were murdered in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre of 4th December 1971. In total, 15 civilians died in the attack, including 2 children. The atrocity remains the greatest loss of civilian life in any murderous attack in Belfast since the Nazi Blitz of the city in 1941.
Yesterday (19th May 2022) at the High Court, after a 7-year-long legal battle, the families learned that the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) has finally conceded that the PSNI/Historical Enquiries Team’s finding of no bias in the original Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation is “irrational” and therefore unlawful.
The families have contended this throughout the case and demanded that the failed HET report is quashed whilst PSNI still contends that police deletions in the irrational report would suffice.
The presiding judge at the High Court, Mr. Justice Humphreys, made it clear at the hearing that the full version of the current HET report cannot remain but adjourned until 16th June to give both legal teams time to agree a settlement.
The families are resolute that the failed, irrational report should be quashed immediately.
Gerard Keenan said:
“PSNI forced our families to fight in court for two years to access this failed report even though we knew it would be a whitewash. PSNI then forced our families to fight in court for another seven years to get this failed report quashed before finally conceding this week that its findings were irrational. We have lost many of our family members over those nine years, so they have gone to their graves without truth or justice from the police.”
“I call on Chief Constable Simon Byrne to do the right thing finally – quash this failed, irrational report and do not force our families back into court as it does nothing but retraumatize us.”
“We have succeeded, and we will not take anything less than the quashing of this failed HET report. It remains a stain on the historical record and is nothing but a monument to police failure and its ongoing cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.”
Paul Pierce of KRW Law represents the applicant, Brigid Irvine. He said:
“It is now beyond doubt that the HET report into the McGurks Bar bombing can no longer stand as a 'final and comprehensive review' of the atrocity. This is what the families expected, and it is what they were promised.”
“These Judicial Review proceedings were lodged in September 2014. It is only this week, and in advance of the hearing yesterday, that the Chief Constable conceded that the HET’s finding of no investigative bias was irrational - and therefore unlawful.”
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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.