MI5 Black Propaganda

This latest archive find (click here to read) is from a British army Headquarters Northern Ireland Intelligence Summary (HQNI INTSUM), dated 9th December 1971, 5 days after the McGurk’s Bar Massacre. It represents British black propaganda in stark terms as they seek to criminalize innocent civilians to fit twisted military strategy.

HQNI INTSUMS were written by British army Intelligence and MoD London and distributed province-wide throughout the military and RUC. We have since asked for the Brigade INTSUMS as these were the raw intelligence fed up through Brigade and supplemented by RUC Special Branch before it was managed, ignored or re-written by the British Intelligence services. I have already fore-warned the MoD that we will be looking for any differences between the two.

The first piece of black propaganda was promulgated in an RUC duty officer’s report on the 5th December 1971 and released by the families last year. In it the groundless “bomb-in-transit” lie was forwarded. This archive find is startling too as it depicts another dimension to British black propaganda and psychological operations.

In section 6, HQNI muddy the waters of the McGurk’s bomb claim and ignore key witness testimony before stating bluntly:

Forensic and EOD reports (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) tend to indicate that the explosion was caused accidentally inside the public house by premature detonation amongst a group which contained an identified IRA victim.

Obviously this is yet another heinous lie. Not only are they asserting that at least one of the victims was an IRA member and therefore complicit in their own demise but forensics were not released until February 1972. In no way did the forensic report substantiate any such lie. Also, we have proved in the Director of Operations Brief (5th December 1971) which we, the families, found, that the Army Technical Officers (ATO) told their General Officer Commanding, Lt. General Sir Harry Tuzo, that the bomb was not inside the main bar area.

This HQNI INTSUM, therefore, is the infamous lie that had the customers being schooled in bomb-making skills. The British authorities and RUC imply that our loved ones were at the very least guilty by association if not complicit in acts of terrorism. Either way, they intimate that the victims had a hand in their own death.

In a modern example of information feed and media control, it was left to the Guardian to produce the most profligate and dissolute article on Christmas Eve 1971:

“Security men and forensic scientists have finished the grisly investigation of the explosion in Paddy McGurk’s Bar, which killed at least 15 Belfast Catholics earlier this month. If they are to be believed – and in this case they probably are – this figure will have to be revised upwards. They claim to have established that five men were standing round the bomb when it went off inside the crowded bar in North Queen Street. All five were blown to pieces.

“The scientists have been able to identify one of them as a senior IRA man who was an expert on explosives and was on the government’s wanted list.

“Of all the conflicting theories about the explosion, the security men are now convinced that the bar was a transfer point in the IRA chain between the makers and the planters of the bomb. Something went wrong and the bomb exploded.”

As this lie also gathered momentum throughout the province, the real culprits within the UVF counter-gang escaped justice with little fear that they would be apprehended.


A massive find this may be but evidently nothing in comparison with the information that is being withheld from the families at the moment. The document was undoubtedly fed to us piecemeal instead of more damning archives.

In the News

Read Kieran Hughes’ North Belfast News report: here

Alban Maginness MLA has voiced his support: here

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