Belfast Telegraph

Daughter of woman killed in McGurk's bar bomb has right to challenge non-disclosure of report

The daughter of a woman killed in a Belfast pub bombing won High Court permission today to challenge the non-disclosure of a report into the massacre.

Bridget Irvine was granted leave to seek a judicial review which would compel Chief Constable Matt Baggott to publish the findings of an Historical Enquiries Team examination of the McGurk's Bar atrocity.

Her mother Kitty Irvine was among 15 Catholics murdered in the UVF attack in December 1971.

The latest HET report into the original RUC investigation of the bombing was completed last December.

With police said to be pursuing further evidential leads, the findings have still not been given the families of those killed in the blast.

In court today their barrister set out the basis for seeking a judicial review.

Frank O'Donoghue QC argued the Chief Constable is under a public law duty to disclose the report without delay.

The failure to hand the dossier over to the families is irrational, unlawful and in breach of their human rights, it was contended.

In 1978 UVF member Robert Campbell was convicted for his part in the attack.

But counsel for the PSNI, Peter Coll, stressed a live police investigation is ongoing.

The possibility of releasing an interim, redacted report was also discussed during the hearing.

Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy granted leave to apply for a judicial review on the grounds of challenge.

A date for a full hearing is expected to be fixed in four weeks time.

The challenge follows a Police Ombudsman probe in 2011 which claimed the original RUC investigation was biased.

It said police failed to properly probe loyalist responsibility for the bombing because they were so focused on the idea that the IRA was to blame.

At the time Mr Baggott pointed to different conclusions reached by other reports.

After clearing the first stage in their legal battle, Ms Irvine's sister Pat claimed it would give the Chief Constable the chance to explain the delay in publishing the HET findings.

She said: "We believe the police have carried on the investigative bias involved in the original investigation into the murder of 15 innocent Catholics in the McGurk's Bar atrocity."

Their solicitor, Paul Pierce of KRW Law, added: "This is an important and significant decision by the court to allow an opportunity to examine the underlying reasons for the Chief Constable's delay in publishing this report to the families."

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