Policing Board Protest Before 50th Anniversary of the Atrocity

Families of the 15 civilians murdered in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre are protesting the Northern Ireland Policing Board on Thursday 2nd December, two days before the 50th anniversary of the atrocity. The families are protesting the Police Service Northern Ireland’s withholding of evidence relating to collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British Army in the cover-up of the massacre which the families discovered in British state archives.

Who: McGurk’s Bar Massacre families (in attendance for interview)

What/Where: Protest at the NI Policing Board, Clarendon Road, Belfast

When: 1:30pm, Thursday 2nd December 2021

Ciarán MacAirt, a grandson of two of the victims, has taken a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office over PSNI’s failure to hand over information in state archives relating to:

(1)             A secret agreement between the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and then Brigadier Frank Kitson which blamed the victims for the bombing hours after the explosion; Kitson informed British Army Brigade Headquarters at 1:00 am, 5th December 1971:

“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.”

(2)          A former Chief Constable of the RUC and head of Special Branch briefing the Northern Ireland Prime Minister and General Officer Commanding British Army with disinformation blaming the McGurk’s Bar victims at a Joint Security Committee Meeting in Stormont on 16th December 1971:

“Circumstantial evidence indicates that this was a premature detonation and two of those killed were known IRA members at least one of whom had been associated with bombing activities. Intelligence indicates that the bomb was destined for use elsewhere in the City.”

In response to the request (3.12.21) for the provenance, dates and source of the disinformation which blamed the victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre for the atrocity in these secret files, PSNI issued a Refusal Notice, recording that PSNI “can neither confirm nor deny [NCND] that it holds the information.” (20.4.21).

MacAirt appealed this decision, but the Refusal Notice/NCND was upheld at Internal Review (24.6.21) so he took a complaint to ICO which is still being investigated.

Ciarán MacAirt said:

“In a just and fair society, this should be a simple request for information relating to how and why the RUC, especially a Chief Constable and head of Special Branch, could tell the head of government such lies and get away with it. Either the PSNI has this evidence and should hand it over to our families, or it does not have it as the RUC and British Army made it up.”

“These police lies criminalized innocent civilians and allowed the mass murderers go free, and these pro-state extremists killed many more civilians in the years to come.”

“I facilitated the PSNI’s work and tracked the disinformation back to a secret agreement between RUC and General Sir Frank Kitson (retired) who is still alive. We even asked the PSNI to question him under caution about these lies.”

“Not only is the PSNI denying our families access to the origin of these police lies, but it is also blocking legal access to a living witness to the British Army and RUC cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.

“This secret agreement between Kitson and RUC was decided within hours of the explosion and before all of the victims had even been identified. So, before we buried our loved ones, the British state buried the truth.”

“It is disgraceful that we are still fighting for scraps of truth and justice half a century later because the PSNI is perverting the course of justice and helping to perpetuate the cover-up of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre. As the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches, our families are well aware too that the denial and delay of PSNI suits a British state that wants to bury its war crimes and human rights abuses by legislating for a pernicious Legacy Bill.”

Further Information

See the documents here: General Tuzo’s Christmas Message and McGurk’s Bar

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