Police Created and Spread McGurk’s Bar Lies

Critical archive find puts police in the frame for McGurk’s Bar lies.

A shocking British military archive discovered by a grandson of victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre proves that the Royal Ulster Constabulary police force originated and disseminated the lie that the atrocity was an “IRA own-goal” just over 4 hours after the bombing.

An entry in a high-level Headquarters 39 Brigade Operations Log at 1am on 5th December 1971 from 39 Brigade Command states that:

“RUC have a line that the bomb in the pub was a bomb designed to be used elsewhere, left in the pub to be picked up by Provisional IRA. Bomb went off and was a mistake. RUC press office have a line on it – NI should deal with them”

Police lies about McGurk's Bar
Families challenge Chief Constable to substantiate and provenance the police’s McGurk’s Bar lies

No police investigation up to the present day has confirmed to the families that the genesis of the McGurk’s Bar disinformation was the police force itself and it was this agency which disseminated the lies so quickly after the attack which happened around 2047 (8:47pm). No police investigation has been able to substantiate or even provenance the initial lie that the McGurk’s Bar bombing was the result an IRA “mistake”.

Challenge to Chief Constable

The families challenge Chief Constable George Hamilton to substantiate the police lie now or admit the police created it.

It is obvious from this startling document that the British Army washed its hands of the RUC “line”. Normally British Army PR handled “terrorist-related” questions from the press but had referred all queries to RUC press office for the “line” deliberately invented by the police.

Furthermore, the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) document proves that:

  • (1) The British Army and police had initiated a standard, pre-planned vehicle checkpoint (VCP) operation called OP Clamp within 3 minutes (2050 – 8:50pm) of the bombing to try to snare a suspicious car that was reported to have been involved in the McGurk’s Bar bombing and was seen leaving the vicinity (see A2 Serials 98 – 99):

“2050 Suspect car: [BLANKED] dark green Cortina seen in York Road”

“2050 McGurk’s Bar… Op Clamp put on. 2 x VCPs/band less E[ast] of river”

Suspect car McGurk's Bar
A suspect car is reported as being involved in the McGurk’s Bar explosion within minutes of the attack


Suspect car McGurk's Bar Report
A vehicle checkpoint operation is launched to try to snare McGurk’s Bar suspect car

We now know from previous investigations that the car used in the bombing had already been abandoned a few hundred yards from the attacked bar and a getaway vehicle had vacated the area. The abandoned vehicle was subsequently discovered and fingerprinted by RUC and 2 partial prints recorded but the car evidence never featured at the inquest or investigation.

  • (2)   The resident British Army battalion (2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers) initially considered that Loyalists were involved:

“2210 No indication as to who caused the explosion, poss minor Prot grps” – (possibly minor Protestant groups)

  • (3)   British Army Brigade and HQNI Command received an expert report from its own Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) at the scene the following morning at 1105 which clearly stated the seat of the explosion proved it was attacked as described by witnesses:

“As far as can be assessed from the damage and the crater caused by the expl[osion]… the bomb was placed in the ground floor entrance.”

British Army bomb expert on McGurk's Bar explosion
A British Army bomb expert correctly assesses the seat of the McGurk’s Bar explosion proving it was attacked
File Discovery

The file was discovered by Ciarán MacAirt, a grandson of two of the victims, who works as an advocate for many of the McGurk’s Bar families via the charity Paper Trail (Legacy Archive Research). MacAirt’s grandmother, Kathleen Irvine, was murdered in the attack and his grandfather, John, badly injured.

It is closed for public access for 84 years but was partially opened after a year-long battle via the Freedom of Information Act and after the application of a Public Interest Test by the British Ministry of Defence. Nevertheless, the MOD has exempted the disclosure of even more information relating to the McGurk’s Bar Massacre in the file so MacAirt has raised a complaint with the British authorities to secure the evidence.

Ciarán MacAirt said:

“This is final, horrific proof that the police originated and disseminated the heinous lie that the McGurk’s Bar bombing was an IRA own-goal. I demand that the Chief Constable proves the provenance of this lie and substantiates it as the RUC in effect criminalized the innocent victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre and allowed the perpetrators roam free and kill again. If he cannot, he will be forced to admit that the police quite simply created the lie to suit the police’s own warped and sectarian agenda.

This discovery comes as our families are still fighting the police after a nearly four-year battle to quash a series of failed reports by its Historical Enquiries Team (HET), all of which sought to exonerate the RUC and perpetuate the cover-up by the police.

Yet again, it has been left to the family of victims to discover this significant evidence. We have had no faith in so-called professional police investigators investigating the police cover-up of the massacre. This latest discovery of vital evidence proves why we were correct not to trust them.

I alerted the offices of the Chief Constable and the Police Ombudsman to the existence of this file and the fact that the MOD had admitted it contained information relating to the McGurk’s Bar Massacre but was withholding it from me. Disgracefully, the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch told me to take my correspondence elsewhere; and the Director of Historic Investigations at the Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPONI) has failed to respond even though I followed up with a request for an update. Once more, we have been very badly served by the police and Office of Police Ombudsman.

I have since been forced to advise our legal representatives at Kinnear and Co. Solicitors of the failure by PSNI and OPONI to do their jobs and our solicitors will be following up with legal action on behalf of our families.

These actions include demands that the police quash its ludicrous HET report into the atrocity and that the Attorney General gives our families the proper inquest they rightfully deserve.”

Further Information

Contact Ciarán MacAirt for further comment info@mcgurksbar.com / 02895 818 575. ENDS

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