An edited version of a report into the McGurk’s Bar massacre is to be disclosed to the victims’ families within two weeks, the PSNI has told the High Court in Belfast.
Counsel for PSNI Baggott confirmed that a version of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) review of the McGurk’s Bar massacre is to be handed over.
It is not yet clear to what extent the report will be redacted or censored, but the announcement was strongly welcomed by the families of the victims.
Fifteen people were murdered when the north Belfast pub was blown up by the loyalist UVF in December 1971. The attack was described as an ‘IRA own goal’ by the Crown forces, a claim which was soon exposed as a lie.
One of those bereaved had sought a judicial review against the PSNI stance, arguing that it had a public law duty to disclose the report without delay.
The legal challenge, brought by Bridget Irvine, whose mother Kitty was among those killed, contended that the failure to hand the dossier over was irrational, unlawful and breaches human rights.
Lawyers for the PSNI had sought more time to consider whether to release a redacted form of the report. But in court this week, barrister Peter Coll for the PSNI said that “a finalised version” of the HET review summary report would be released within two weeks.
In other news, families of 20 people killed by a gang that contained members of the Crown forces and loyalist paramilitaries are set to take legal action against the British government and the PSNI.
The authorities knew about the activities of the UVF/RUC/UDR gang based at a farm in Glenanne, south Armagh, which carried out 120 murders on both sides of the border during the early 1970s, but failed to prevent the attacks.
The families say the evidence of collusion between the Crown forces and paramilitaries is overwhelming. They are suing for damages, alleging a failure by the British government, its Ministry of Defence and the RUC (now PSNI) police to fulfill their legal duties to protect life and take action against those involved.
Their lawyer, Peter Corrigan, said: “These cases are taken against a background of a continued failure by the state to front up on its role in facilitating collusion in mid-Ulster in one of the darkest periods of the conflict here.”
Meanwhile, the sister of a man murdered by the UVF yesterday cleared the first stage in her High Court battle to secure disclosure of a full report on the shooting.
Bobby Moffett was gunned down in front of shoppers on west Belfast’s Shankill Road in May 2010.
The now defunct ‘Independent Monitoring Commission’ (IMC), the body set up to scrutinise loyalist and IRA activity, found that the UVF’s leadership had sanctioned the 43-year-old’s killing.
In its report the international body described the killing as a public execution ordered to stop him from flouting UVF authority -- and to send a message to the community that this authority was not to be challenged.
Mr Moffett’s sister, Irene Owens, was this week granted leave to seek a judicial review which would compel the British government to release the dossier to the coroner in full.
But in other news, a former member of the RUC Special Branch has said he has destroyed his police journals and diaries in order “to stop them falling into the wrong hands”.
The man, who was granted anonymity and is known only as ‘P3’, was testifying at the inquest into the murder of pensioner Roseann Mallon. Ms Mallon’s house was under blanket British Army surveillance when it was raked with gunfire, in an attack blamed on loyalist paramilitaries.
The inquest has already heard overwhelming evidence of Crown force collusion in the killing.
‘P3’ was the most senior figure in the special RUC ‘intelligence’ division in Dungannon, County Tyrone, at the time of Ms Mallon’s murder. He said he “never considered” the police journals might be used for trials or inquest hearings.
“There was no requirement - I never even thought about it,” he said. The inquest, now in its third week, will continue on Monday.