5 Years Later: McGurk’s Bar Families Still in Court Fighting Irrational Police Probe

The McGurk’s Bar families are in High Court on Friday (29th January 2016) against the Chief Constable of the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) seeking a Judicial Review of an irrational report by the police’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

It will be 5 years ago next month that the former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) denied the central finding of a report by the office of the Police Ombudsman into the McGurk’s Bar bombing of 4th December 1971 which resulted in the death of 15 civilians including two children. The statutory body set up to hold the police accountable had found the former police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), guilty of investigative bias in its investigation of the atrocity. This was denied by then Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, who oversaw the writing of the irrational report by the Historical Enquiries Team.

Press release on behalf of the McGurk’s Bar Commemoration Committee.

Protesting Baggott's Intransigence
Alex McLaughlin holds a placard aloft as former Chief constable, Matt Baggott, enters the Policing Board. Alex has since passed.

On Friday, the campaigning families will be in the High Court yet again fighting for a Judicial Review of the “irrational” report on the McGurk’s Bar bombing by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET). The families won a previous Judicial Review against PSNI and forced the police to release the report which it was withholding from them.

The families were compelled to take further High Court action as they considered that this HET review (the fourth failed report) found that there was no police investigative bias, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Much of this new evidence was discovered and published not by the police, but by a close relative of one of the victims.

The present Chief Constable, George Hamilton, only recently decided (October 2015) not to contest the issue of police investigative bias in the original investigation but he still has not quashed the HET report.

Robert McClenaghan, grandson of McGurk’s Bar victim, Philip Garry, says:

“It is absolutely shameful that the Chief Constable is still defending the indefensible and trying to uphold a failed report and a failed organisation such as HET. PSNI should concern itself with its own reputation rather than attempting to protect the reputation of a sectarian police force in the past.”

“That police force ignored evidence about the murder of our loved ones and even falsified its own. The HET was no better as it tried to ignore a mountain of archive evidence discovered and published by a grandson of McGurk’s Bar victim, Kathleen Irvine. Now the Chief Constable has tried to do the same even though he does not want to contest the fact that his former police force was guilty of investigative bias.”

“The PSNI’s delay and denial of the inevitable is disgraceful as many of our family members are now very old and face their own mortality. Since the former Chief Constable denied the central finding of the Police Ombudsman’s report 5 years ago, a number of our family members have gone to their graves fighting the continued cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar massacre.  Today’s Chief Constable must bow to the inevitable and quash the HET report for we believe that his police force is the one now perverting the course of justice.”

Information for the Media:

Contact Robert McClenaghan 07752 500 513 or email: info@mcgurksbar.com

You can read about the families’ horrific journey with the Historical Enquiries Team here.

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