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Relatives of McGurk's bar bombing victims launch legal action against PSNI Chief Constable Sir George Hamilton

A Time for Truth March in Belfast two weeks ago when crowds marched from McGurk’s Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and converged at Belfast City Hall. Relatives of people killed in the McGurk’s bar bomb attack in December 1971 have begun a legal challenge against outgoing chief constable George Hamilton over his failure to order a fresh investigation into the atrocity
Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Cate McCurry

RELATIVES of people killed in a notorious Belfast bomb attack have begun a legal challenge against the chief constable’s decision not to order an independent investigation into the atrocity.

Fifteen people were killed in the blast at McGurk’s Bar in December 1971.

The bombing was carried out by the UVF, but at the time security forces blamed the IRA, prompting speculation that the dead might have included IRA members who were carrying the device.

The families’ decision to begin judicial review proceedings comes after relatives and campaigners discovered new evidence.

In a statement, the families said they are taking legal action against outgoing chief constable Sir George Hamilton over his failure to order a fresh investigation, including the questioning of former senior army officer Sir Frank Kitson.

The former commander-in-chief of UK Land Forces was brigadier in charge of the armed forces in Belfast at time of the bombing.

The families claim the discovery of the new evidence shows that the former senior officer and the RUC were involved in a cover-up.

The victims’ relatives have called for Sir George to order an independent investigation into the massacre.

Ciaran MacAirt, a grandson of two of the McGurk’s Bar victims, discovered an entry in a log book dated December 5 1971 which claimed that the bomb was to be picked up by the Provisional IRA.

Mr MacAirt said: “The police continue to cover up the McGurk’s Bar massacre and we now have a better understanding why.

“Secret British military documents lead us to believe that General Sir Frank Kitson and the RUC colluded to frame my grandmother and the other victims for the atrocity.

“We have the evidence in black and white but Chief Constable George Hamilton has failed to act upon it.

“Successive chief constables up to this very day have denied and delayed our basic human right to an independent investigation and a number of our family members have gone to their graves without truth or justice.

“Chief Constable George Hamilton might have his coat on to leave the Police Service of Northern Ireland but we are calling him out before he goes for the human rights abuses our families suffer at the hands of RUC/PSNI.

“That will be his legacy to our families and hundreds of others like ours.”

Niall O Murchu, of Kinnear & Co Solicitors, who represents a number of the victims’ families, said: “The PSNI under the chief constable is perpetuating a police cover-up that has spanned two generations. We now know why.

“This new evidence shows that Frank Kitson, the British armed forces’ most infamous commander, colluded with the RUC and ordered the dissemination of the McGurk’s Bar lies.

“Like his predecessors, the chief constable is denying the McGurk’s Bar families an independent, Article 2-compliant investigation which examines the involvement of British armed forces and RUC in the atrocity, so we have initiated judicial review proceedings to ensure the families can access this basic right.”

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