Northern Ireland news

Michelle O'Neill: John Taylor should retract McGurk's Bar comments

Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill. Picture by Owen Humphreys, Press Association

SINN Féin's northern leader has called on former unionist minister John Taylor to retract comments made after the 1971 McGurk's Bar bombing.

It comes after a daughter of one of the 15 people killed in the atrocity was involved in a lengthy Twitter exchange with the cross-bench peer.

Mr Taylor, now Lord Kilclooney, was a junior minister in the old Stormont regime at the time and indicated shortly afterwards it was an IRA bomb that exploded prematurely inside the north Belfast bar.

It was later confirmed to be a UVF attack and victims' families have said the statement compounded their grief because it prompted speculation the dead might have included IRA members carrying the device.

Lord Kilclooney told The Irish News his statement had been based on advice from “both police and forensic” and to have "ignored that advice would have been irresponsible on my part".

He added that any new information "would have been given to the then minister responsible for security and certainly not to me" and it was for "that former minister to decide whether any apology is appropriate".

However, Ms O'Neill said the fact Lord Kilclooney made his statement as a government minister "places a very clear onus on him to withdraw these remarks about this terrible sectarian attack".

“The relatives of those killed and the survivors need to hear a clear and unequivocal retraction of these hurtful comments by John Taylor,” she said.

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