Massacre cover-up exposed
Massacre cover-up exposed

The British Army knew within hours that the bombing the McGurk’s Bar in 1971 was a loyalist massacre of innocent Catholics and not an IRA ‘own goal’ as it claimed at the time.

A newly uncovered document, dated the day of the bombing, proves that the British Army knew that the bomb -- which claimed the lives of 15 innocent civilians -- was planted outside the Belfast bar.

The confidential briefing note was presented to Harry Tuzo, then the British army’s general officer commanding, within hours of the bombing.

Following the UVF massacre of December 4 1971, both RUC and army intelligence services put out a cover-up claiming the explosion had taken place from within the building, possibly as a result of an “IRA bomb-making factory”.

This false version of events was later put before the House of Commons at the behest of senior army officers.

The injured and bereaved have never received an official apology from the British government but Direct Rule minister Paul Goggins apologised last year for incorrect “perceptions and preconceived ideas”.

The bombing was also subject to a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) police review of the initial investigation.

Ciaran Mac Airt, a grandson of McGurk’s Bar massacre victim Kitty Irvine, said the British government should apologise for the cover-up.

“What we have here is an official document viewed at the highest level confirming from the outset the British army were aware the bomb had been placed outside the bar,” he said.

“Despite this, within hours the black propaganda campaign swung into action in an attempt to sully the reputations of innocent victims and to divert attention away from the true culprits.

“Both MoD and RUC resources were directed not at tracing the bombers but instead channelled into a cover-up operation.

“I will be asking for the HET to re-examine their findings and call for a full and unequivocal apology from the British government admitting the very deliberate nature of the cover up.”

The no-warning bomb was was one of the worst single atrocities of the conflict, killing ten men, three women and two children, all Catholics.

Only one person, UVF man Robert Campbell, was ever convicted in connection with the mass murder.

Last year, government papers revealed British army efforts to distort facts surrounding the atrocity. British officials claimed that a “bomb-making class” may have been taking place inside the North Queen Street bar when it exploded prematurely.

This led to a campaign spearheaded by families of victims which has uncovered a number of blatant cover-ups at the time by members of the Ministry of Defence intelligence units.

The latest document to be uncovered by Ciaran MacAirt, the campaigning grandson of 53-year-old victim Kitty Irvine, goes one step further, stating that the bomb exploded “outside” the building.

Mr MacAirt said last night the damning new evidence categorically proved collusion and cover-up were an instrumental part of the army’s handling of the atrocity.

Whilst minister Paul Goggins has apologised for initial false reporting of the bombing their are now calls for the government to go further.

Mr MacAirt said it was now time for the British government to admit a deliberate cover up took place to divert attention away from the murder gang.

“I still believe that the cover-up and black propaganda was part and parcel of the collusion involved in the murders of 15 people including my grandmother,” he said.

“This document confirms the army’s most senior officer was aware of the true version of events within hours.

“In light of this new evidence there should now be an unequivocal apology from the British government admitting the very deliberate nature of the cover-up.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said it was not clear that a “smear campaign, which attempted to blame the innocent victims for the bomb, went to the highest level of the British army and government.

“For the victims families this is hardly a revelation. It is what they have been campaigning on for over 37 years now - to highlight what happened and to seek a full apology and admission of what occurred on the night and in the subsequent weeks, and months.

“However what is dismaying is that it was a relative of one of the victims who uncovered this document and that it was not released by the British government who were clearly hiding the evidence and deliberately giving false information.

“What we need to see now is the British government releasing all the files surrounding this and many other cases in order to get to the truth.

“Without this there will not be closure for the families of those who have suffered through collusion and the British states role in the conflict.”

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2009 Irish Republican News