Indignation after new files back McGurk’s Bar families

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A shocking British military archive discovered by a grandson of victims of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre of 1971 proves that the Royal Ulster Constabulary police originated and disseminated “a line” falsely stating that the atrocity was an IRA ‘own goal’, just over 4 hours after the bombing.

An entry in a high-level British Army log on the night of the attack states that the “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”

No police investigation has ever confirmed that the genesis of the McGurk’s Bar disinformation was the RUC itself and it was this agency which disseminated the false information so quickly after the attack. No police investigation has been able to substantiate or even provenance the initial falsehood that the McGurk’s Bar bombing was the result an IRA “mistake”.

The families have challenged PSNI Chief George Hamilton to substantiate the 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”, according to Ciaran MacAirt of the Paper Trail charity, who carried out the research.

“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.”

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) document also reveals that the British Army had initiated a vehicle checkpoint operation within 3 minutes of the bombing to try to snare a suspicious car that was reported to have been involved in the attack -- and that loyalists were suspected.

The British Army Brigade and HQNI Command also received an expert report confirming the bomb had been placed in the ground floor entrance.

The file with the new information was only discovered as a result of a year-long battle via the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr MacAirt, whose grandmother was murdered in the attack and his grandfather badly injured, said the documents were “the 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 criminalised 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.”

The now defunct police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has previously claimed there was no evidence of bias in the original RUC investigation, contradicting the finding of the Police Ombudsman.

Mr MacAirt said the families were still fighting the police after a nearly four-year battle to quash the series of reports by the HET, all of which sought to exonerate the RUC and perpetuate the cover-up.

“Yet again, it has been left to the family of victims to discover this significant evidence,” he said. “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.”

He said the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch and the Director of Historic Investigations at the Office of the Police Ombudsman had failed to respond to his correspondence on the matter, and that a legal action would be undertaken on behalf of the 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.”

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