Relatives of people killed in the McGurk’s Bar bomb have called for an infamous British Army general to be questioned by an independent police force after evidence was unearthed that he was in charge of the brigade which disseminated the lie that the attack was an IRA ‘own goal’.
‘Dirty War’ mastermind General Frank Kitson was Commander of 39 Infantry Brigade when the unionist paramilitary UVF detonated a bomb in the North Queen Street bar in north Belfast in December 1971. Fifteen people were killed.
An entry in a log for the brigade a day after the bomb attack claimed that “the bomb in the pub was a bomb designed to be used elsewhere”. After this, the RUC police blamed the IRA for the bomb, but this was later shown to have been a lie.
Kitson, known for his military treatises on “low intensity operations”, was promoted to take charge of British military occupation in the Six Counties during the early 1970s. He was behind the deployment of the murderous Military Reaction Force against the nationalist population at that time.
The McGurk’s bar lie may have been an early example of ‘psy-ops’ or psychological operations, which was one of the hallmarks of British military activity under Kitson.
Ciarán MacAirt, whose grandmother Kitty Irvine was killed in the bomb attack, has called for the former general to be arrested and questioned independently of the PSNI police.
“This is absolutely critical evidence relating to the genesis of the McGurk’s Bar lie which blamed our loved ones for the massacre and allowed mass-murderers to roam free and murder again,” he said.
“This archival evidence confirms our long-held suspicion that Kitson colluded with the RUC to cover-up the McGurk’s Bar massacre. We demand that General Sir Frank Kitson is arrested for questioning immediately by an independent police force as the PSNI has deliberately failed to investigate this high-level British Army and RUC conspiracy.
“The PSNI has proved yet again that it is more interested in covering up for a sectarian police force in the past rather than investigating the McGurk’s Bar Massacre fairly and upholding the basic human rights of citizens murdered, injured and bereaved in the attack.”
Mr MacAirt’s lawyer, Niall Ó Murchú, said the PSNI had “failed completely” to respond to several requests to deal with the matter.
“Collusion in the aftermath of the McGurk’s Bar massacre has long been established by Ciarán MacAirt’s discovery of many secret British State archives; but this is the very first document which shows that Kitson was personally involved in the atrocity,” he said.
“This new evidence has clearly passed the threshold required to justify Kitson’s immediate questioning under caution. Nevertheless, the PSNI should not be involved with this investigation for two reasons: firstly, as a matter of law, the PSNI is not independent when it comes to investigating legacy cases, following the recent Court of Appeal judgment in the McQuillan case; secondly, the PSNI’s treatment of these families in particular during the last 13 years has been utterly disgraceful and has done little except re-traumatise them and perpetuate the McGurk’s Bar cover-up.
“We have initiated this legal process because the Chief Constable has thus far failed to refer this matter to independent investigators, or even respond to us in any way.”