MoD Withholding Evidence of British Army Witness

Press Release: The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) is withholding evidence of a British Army witness on the night of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been forced to admit that it does indeed know the name and rank of a British soldier involved in a covert British military “ambush” operation in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar on the night of the bombing which claimed the lives of 15 civilians, including 2 children.

Following a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act, Ciarán MacAirt, a grandson of two McGurk’s Bar victims, accused the MoD of withholding critical evidence relating to the soldier and his deployment in a covert “ambush OP” [Observation Post] on the night of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre of 4th December 1971.

MacAirt complained to MoD and directed it to where it should have looked for the information, such as a redacted serial in the resident battalion’s military logs and the soldier’s disciplinary files (as it was recorded that he had accidentally discharged a weapon).

MacAirt previously accessed a partially redacted log sheet for the 2nd Battalion of Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2 RRF) which proved the existence of a covert British Army unit near McGurk’s Bar (Serial 33). C Company 2 RRF reported to its Headquarters at Glenravel, close to McGurk’s Bar, at 1645 hours (4:45pm) around 4 hours before the bomb:

“Accidental discharge in the York St ambush OP – [REDACTED]”

Covert British Army Operation Ambush OP Vicinity McGurk's Bar

MoD Breaks

The MoD has had to admit that MacAirt’s directions were correct.

In its Internal Review, MoD subsequently admitted:

12 – “That the redaction at Serial 33 relates to the rank and surname of the soldier.”

Serial 12 MoD Internal Review

16 – “APC [Army Personnel Centre] was able to locate, retrieve and extract relevant information from the individual’s formal personnel record.”

Serial 16 MoD Internal Review

Nevertheless, MoD still maintained that the soldier’s unit is unknown as he may have been “on loan”.

So, the named soldier was a Fusilier but the MoD allegedly cannot tell us which unit he was from as he may have been on loan. The families believe this to be nonsense, of course.


Ciarán MacAirt said:

“I welcome the fact that the MoD has been forced to admit the existence of the covert British military operation in the vicinity of McGurk’s Bar and that the families have uncovered a potential British Army witness to the atrocity.

“Nevertheless, I have raised a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) against the MoD for withholding evidence in the murder of the 15 civilians killed in McGurk’s Bar.”

“This new evidence is the latest example of the failure of Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Office of the Police Ombudsman Northern Ireland (OPONI) to investigate this atrocity and police cover-up.”

“MoD, PSNI and OPONI all denied the presence of British armed forces in the area, but we have proved that they were completely wrong.”

“Not only was there a covert British military operation in place on the night of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre, but I have flushed a potential British Army witness to the atrocity after battling with the MoD for information; but MoD is withholding even more evidence, so I have been forced to take a complaint to ICO.”

“As for the chronic failures at PSNI and OPONI, I do not where know collusion ends and incompetence begins.”


Further Information

Contact Ciarán MacAirt by email

For further information, read: Covert British Army Operation Discovered in Vicinity of McGurk’s Bar

Ciarán MacAirt’s grandparents, John and Kathleen Irvine were two of the many victims. His grandmother was murdered and his grandfather badly injured.

The original request for information was raised in October 2019 and, following a Public Interest Test, MacAirt received access to redacted files which he contested. Subsequent to this complaint and MoD’s Internal Review, MacAirt received the Final Response on 11 January 2021. MacAirt then raised a complaint with ICO on 23rd March 2021. ICO has since accepted this for investigation.

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