McGurk's families launch legal bid

Published Thursday, 01 August 2013
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Families of the victims of one of Northern Ireland's worst terrorist atrocities are to launch a legal bid to obtain a report into the outrage.

McGurk's families launch legal bid
The scene of the bombing at McGurk's bar. (© Pacemaker)

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) review of the police investigation into the McGurk's Bar massacre was completed last December.

But the release of the findings have been blocked by Chief Constable Matt Baggott, according to relatives of the 15 people blown up when the north Belfast pub was hit by the loyalist UVF in December 1971.

They have now instructed solicitors to go to the High Court in an attempt to obtain a copy of the report.

They have also lodged a complaint with the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire. A second written complaint was handed over to the Policing Board on Thursday.

The families said they made repeated requests to the HET, the Policing Board and the Chief Constable and were reluctantly left with no choice but to instruct their solicitors, Kevin Winters & Co. to begin a legal action.

At the time of the attack, security sources lied when they claimed the bomb went off accidentally as it was being handled by the IRA.

Just one man was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for his part in the attack.

Ciarán MacAirt, grandson of Kathleen Irvine, one of the 15 Catholics murdered in the no-warning explosion, said: "The state and its security forces conspired to criminalise our loved ones when they fabricated a story that the bomb was in-transit and that customers were being schooled in bomb-making."

To clear their good names, our families have been forced to campaign against police lies and intransigence for two generations. We have done so constitutionally and with great dignity.

Ciarán MacAirt

"By blocking the release of the HET report into the death of our loved ones, the Chief Constable of the reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland is quite simply re-traumatising our family members. Many of them are aged," he added.

"Despite our great patience and despite our facilitation of the HET's investigation, we have been forced to begin legal proceedings to gain access to this report."

He continued: "We have been forced to raise a complaint with the Police Ombudsman and with the Policing Board, set up as they are to hold the police to account. Our families have suffered enough."

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment because the Ombudsman is involved."

The HET, a special investigative unit set up to review unsolved murders in Northern Ireland, started investigating the McGurk's atrocity in March 2006.

Mr Baggott is already under pressure from the bereaved relatives after failing to unequivocally endorse the findings of a separate Police Ombudsman's inquiry into the bombing which claimed the RUC had an "investigative bias" that misled people into wrongly thinking the IRA was responsible, when in fact the device was planted by loyalists.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
28 Comments
Pol in Belfast wrote (454 days ago):
John... If the state was involved in a cover up in regards to Darkley , La Mon etc.. Then an enquiry will get my support.
Ryan in Belfast wrote (454 days ago):
The families of the innocent people murdered deserve justice.
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (454 days ago):
Unrealistic in cloud coocooland, ever heard of the free State govt (pre1920) state sponsoring republican terrorism, or the fact that the British govt and Republicans colluded to kill Billy In the Maze, NO-ONE IS CLEAN #DirtyWar
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (454 days ago):
Standard Bar, Bayardo Bar, Frazell's Fish shop, Omagh, How many atrocities go unresolved, it's time for all participants in the dirty war to come clean and admit their wrongdoings... then they can,maybe try to make amends, ALL. VIOLENCE IS WRONG
Mac in N. Belfast wrote (455 days ago):
Just so there's no confusion; Mac in Northern Ireland is not me. Similar username, totally different political opinions. People deserve to know what happened behind the scenes of a government agency if it was involved in the perpetration of such an atrocity. It's shocking that it happened and worse that it is still deemed classified.
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