Northern Ireland news

PSNI continuing to cover up RUC failure of past, say McGurk's families

The McGurk's Bar mural on Belfast's North Queen Street
Connla Young

RELATIVES of people killed in the McGurk’s Bar bombing have accused the PSNI of “delaying” their campaign “for truth and justice”.

The comments came after police asked a court for more time to reveal their reasons for not contesting a legal challenge by relatives of 15 people killed in the 1971 bombing.

At the time security forces blamed the IRA but this was later proved to be untrue. In 2011 a Police Ombudsman report said there had been “investigative bias” in how the RUC handled the case.

However, the Historical Enquiries Team later claimed there was no evidence of bias in the original investigation. Last month, solicitors for Chief Constable George Hamilton said he would not be contesting the original findings, but the service has not yet provided a reasons for failing to contest the challenge.

It was expected they would do so last Friday but legal representatives asked for a delay. It is now hoped they will provide an explanation today at the High Court at Belfast. Relatives say they want the entire HET report quashed and are demanding an independent investigation into the atrocity by the planned Historical Investigations Unit.

Campaigner Robert McClenaghan, whose 73-year-old grandfather Phillip Garry was killed in the loyalist blast, said further delays are distressing for families.

“This is totally unacceptable for families,” he said. “We demand the quashing of a HET Report written by a failed organisation to support the heinous actions of Chief Constable Hamilton’s predecessor, Matt Baggott.

“For us, the PSNI continue to cover up for the RUC failures of the past.”

He said families have no faith in the PSNI to investigate the bombing.

“The PSNI are totally incapable of dealing with this and other legacy cases,” he said.

“Only a new independent, impartial, investigative body will be acceptable to families. All political parties must ensure we get one without any further delay.”

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “As legal proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment in detail at this stage however, PSNI can confirm that we are in the process of sharing a revised version of the HET report with the families as part of the chief constable’s commitment to deal with this matter as expeditiously as possible within the legal constraints.”

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