Irish Republican News · November 5, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Secret document reveals Britain’s massacre spin


The hard-won declassification of a secret military file proves that the British state knew the truth of the deadly attack on McGurk’s Bar in 1971, when 15 civilians were killed, but created a false narrative in an attempt to deflect blame onto the IRA.

The file proves that a British Army bomb expert and witness at the scene of the massacre informed British Army Headquarters that the bar had been attacked by a bomb placed at the entrance. However, subsequent RUC and British Army reports blamed the innocent civilians in the bar as an IRA ‘own goal’.

Author and researcher Ciaran MacAirt, a grandson of one of those murdered in Belfast on 4th December 1971, originally requested the log sheet of the British military headquarters (HQNI) under the Freedom of Information Act, but was refused.

However, a heavily censored version of the document was eventually released after the independent First Tier Tribunal (FTT) ordered authorities hand it over. It stated that the ATO [British Army Ammunition Technical Officer] was “convinced bomb was placed in entrance way on ground floor. The area is cratered and clearly was the seat of the explosion.”

Significantly, the document notes that this information is ‘NOT FOR PR’ -- not to be released to the media. Instead, British forces and unionist politicians immediately put out the lie that the IRA was responsible for the attack.

The document also reveals that the information was passed to someone at the British army’s 39th Brigade, which at the time was headed by General Frank Kitson, known for his doctrine of psychological warfare. The rest of the file remains closed pending a hearing in December, just after the 45th anniversary of the attack.

Two children were among the 15 who died, while 16 civilians, including other children, were injured. Last year, the PSNI claimed to have “exhausted all outstanding lines of inquiry” into the McGurk’s bar bombing and there were “no further investigative steps to be taken”.

The PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team still refuses to accept there was evidence of bias in the orpgitam RUC police investigation. Ciaran MacAirt said:

“This is yet another ground-breaking discovery which casts a cold light upon the lies which the police and state manufactured in the aftermath of the bombing. It also demolishes any defence that the police today have in attempting to uphold a disgraceful PSNI Historical Enquiries Team (HET) Review into the explosion which is nothing but another attempt by the police to cover-up the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.”

“It has taken nearly two years to wrest even this snippet from the British state at a time when we are locked in a Judicial Review against the PSNI to quash the Review of the HET. Over a year ago, I alerted the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to this file and demanded that the police access it as crucial evidence in the mass murder of ordinary civilians but he washed his hands of it. We are now calling upon that same person to do his job, access the evidence which his investigators missed or ignored, and quash the HET Review.”

“The following section in the British Army file, which was overseen by a police Liaison Officer, noted in capital letters “NOT FOR PR [Public Relations]” so it was not to be made public. As we buried our loved ones, the British state buried the truth, and the police briefed journalists that the bomb exploded whilst in-transit and that it was an IRA own-goal. Therefore, the very people who should have defended the basic human rights of our loved ones, instead criminalized them. But the victims’ only crime was their faith.”


* Ciaran MacAirt is author of the critically acclaimed book on the atrocity, The McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-Up and a Campaign for Truth. He also manages the charity, Paper Trail, which helps other families bereaved by the conflict access information in public records.

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2016 Irish Republican News