Northern Ireland news

Row over 'RUC' wording on Co Armagh bar attack

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie. Picture by Mal McCann
Mairead Holland

THE Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) has defended the wording of an online post about the RUC's role in an attack on a Co Armagh bar in 1976.

The post, which provoked a Twitter row, was advertising the screening of the film Unquiet Graves at the Rock Bar in Granemore, near Keady, on Wednesday.

It referred to the rural pub as having survived "an RUC bomb and gun attack on 5 June 1976".

Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesperson Doug Beattie accused the centre of a "disgraceful slur on the RUC".

The MLA said: “This is nothing less than a sickening and abhorrent attempt to smear the force. ... The murders in the Rock Bar were carried out by terrorists, nothing more, nothing less. The murders were investigated by the RUC and evidence was sought to secure convictions for those responsible.

"There is no doubt that during the course of the Troubles a very small number of police officers broke the law and disgraced the force. This is true of any profession – be it doctors, teachers, accountants or lawyers."

PFC spokesperson Alan Brecknell pointed to a report by the Historial Enquiries Team (HET) which concluded that "a group of police officers planned and carried out" the attack on the Catholic-owned bar.

He said Mr Beattie had failed to mention "that a police vehicle and radios were involved, that one of those responsible was actually on duty and that one of those involved took statements from survivors in the aftermath".

Mr Brecknell added: "Doug Beattie MLA is clearly not familiar with the details of the Rock Bar attack. Contrary to what he has claimed in his statement no-one was killed on the night.

"He correctly points to the sacrifice made by many RUC officers and on this we have no disagreement."

One RUC officer received a custodial sentence for the attack with three others given suspended sentences.

The film Unquiet Graves details the British government's role in the murder of more than 120 civilians in counties Armagh, Tyrone and the Republic of Ireland during the 1970s.

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