Northern Ireland news

Families welcome court ruling quashing McGurk's Bar report

Pat and Sam Irvine, whose mother Kathleen died in the McGurk's bar bombing in 1971. Picture by Mal McCann.
Connla Young

RELATIVES of people killed in the McGurk’s Bar bombing have welcomed a High Court ruling quashing a controversial Historical Enquiries Team report.

he legal challenge was taken by Brigid Irvine, whose mother Kitty Irvine was killed.

Her sister Pat Irvine last said the massacre impacted greatly on her family.

“I was 14 at the time of the explosion in McGurk's Bar. I attended the scene not knowing that both my parents were lying under this scene of total destruction. I cannot even begin the describe the horror of what I saw. My mother Kitty was killed. My father John was pulled from the rubble and survived. Our lives were totally destroyed by this," she said.

"All the family members of those killed in McGurk's not only suffered the loss of their loved ones, but this loss was compounded by the stigma of having their family members labelled as being responsible for the explosion.

"All the families have endured over 50 years of suffering along with the lies, the denials and the delays in finding the truth. We are delighted with the court's judgment."

Ms Irvine said the report could have been quashed earlier.

"The chief constable has continued to defend this case for almost eight years, and stood over a HET report that he must have known could never have been acceptable to the families of those killed in McGurk's,” she said.

Pat Irvine's son and Kitty's grandson, Ciarán MacAirt, who is a well-known campaigner, said relatives “are vindicated in their battle to have this failed, irrational and therefore illegal report to be quashed".

"It remains disgraceful, though, that the PSNI dragged us through the courts for seven long years before this ruling," he said.

"PSNI has done nothing but re-traumatise our families."

Mr MacAirt said relatives will continue their campaign.

"We do not know where collusion ends and incompetence begins so our fight for truth and justice continues," he said.

Solicitor Paul Pierce, KRW Law, described the judgment as an important and unprecedented outcome.

"The HET ignored fundamental concerns raised by the victims families over investigative bias, which from the outset attempted to blame those killed in McGurk's as being responsible for the explosion,” he said.

A spokesman for the PSNI said it will "take time to fully consider the written judgment".

"It would, therefore, be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

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