The Office of the Police Ombudsman has admitted that it is withholding evidence from our families.

The evidence regards proof of collusion between General Sir Frank Kitson (retired) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the provenance of RUC lies - but the Office of the Police Ombudsman withheld this evidence from its 2011 report into the massacre.

A grandson of two of the victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre has accused the Office of the Police Ombudsman of withholding evidence of the police cover-up of the atrocity and complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Watch the video here:

In August 2021, Ciarán MacAirt submitted two requests for information relating to evidence he found in state files. These regarded:

(1)   A secret agreement between then Brigadier Frank Kitson (now retired General Sir Frank Kitson) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary within hours of the atrocity to follow the police ‘line’ that the McGurk’s Bar Massacre was the result of an IRA own-goal and not an attack by pro-state Loyalists

(2)   Lies submitted by the Chief Constable of RUC and the Head of Special Branch to the Northern Ireland Prime Minister and General Officer Commanding the British Army in Northern Ireland which alleged that two of the victims were known IRA members and that the explosion was the result of an IRA own-goal.

Read about these here: Chief Constable - Prove Police Lies or Admit Police Fabricated Them

MacAirt asked for confirmation that (a) OPONI had actually discovered and considered the secret agreement between the British Army’s Brigadier Frank Kitson and the RUC as there is no reference to this collusion in OPONI’s 2011 report into the massacre.

He also asked OPONI (b) the provenance, dates and source of the RUC ‘line’ and subsequent lies the RUC’s leaders told directly to the Stormont government.

OPONI’s Head of Communication, originally admitted that OPONI held the information, but that OPONI exempted itself from providing it to the families [under Section 31 (1) (g) of Freedom of Information Act – likely to prejudice the exercise by the public authority of its functions; and Section 44 (1) (a) FOIA which exempts disclosure when prohibited by other legislation, namely Section 63 Police (NI) Act 1998]

OPONI wrote in the original refusal (30.9.21):

“The Office confirms the following in compliance with s17(3) of FOIA:

(a)    Having considered the information that you have requested, the Office confirms that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

(b)   The Office believes that it is in the interests of the police complaints system, and therefore in the public interest, to have a service where the participation of people who make complaints, of police officers who are complained about, of witnesses, suspects and others who can assist, is reliant upon ensuring their confidentiality, in so far as we can. We believe that disclosing the information you have asked for, if it were to become known, would have the effect of deterring others from using and assisting the police complaints process. It would prejudice our public function.”

Following a further delayed Internal Review by OPONI, OPONI’s Acting Director of Legal Services apologised for the late initial response and late internal review but has upheld the original response and added further exemptions.

It is disgusting that after half a century and two failed reports that the Office of the Police Ombudsman is withholding evidence regarding collusion between the RUC and the British Army, and a Chief Constable’s fabrication of lies about the victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.

This was a simple request to the Office of the Police Ombudsman to prove it had investigated the origin of the Chief Constable’s lies in 1971 and knew about the secret agreement between the police and Brigadier Frank Kitson to blame our loved ones.

Instead, the Office of the Police Ombudsman says it has the information, but we are not getting it!

If it had this critical evidence, the Police Ombudsman did not include it in the 2011 report as it completely undermines the Office’s findings.

It alleged investigative police bias but no collusion in 2011. Nevertheless, the Police Ombudsman failed to tell our families about a secret agreement between Brigadier Frank Kitson and the RUC hours after the explosion when they colluded to blame the massacre on an IRA own-goal, thereby criminalizing the victims and survivors of the atrocity.

We can only conclude that the Office of the Police Ombudsman had this evidence but chose to bury it, thereby helping to perpetuate the police and British Army cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre. This failure to provide simple information goes to the heart of the lack of credibility of the 2011 report and the Office of the Police Ombudsman today.

Furthermore, the Office’s withholding of evidence is undermining the police complaints’ system, not my request for basic information about the murder of 15 civilians including my grandmother and two children.

Therefore, I have been forced to take my complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office as I demand the Police Ombudsman:

  1. Hands over this evidence of police collusion and lies; and
  2. Tells our families why her Office buried it in 2011.
Further Information

Watch the video

Read the books

The cover of the new book by Ciarán MacAirt called Trope


Support the work of the charity, Paper Trail.

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.

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