Belfast Telegraph

I will meet McGurk's Bar bomb families, says Matt Baggott

By Patrice Dougan

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has again offered to meet the families of those killed and injured in the McGurk's Bar bomb after they staged a protest outside a meeting of the Policing Board.

The protest follows a report by the Police Ombudsman in February which found there was an "investigative bias" by police during the original probe into the December 1971 atrocity.

It concluded that RUC officers were so focused on the idea that the explosion was caused by an IRA bomb in transit that they failed to investigate the bombing properly.

The explosion in the north Belfast bar killed 15 people, including two children, and injured 16 others. When the report was published Mr Baggott questioned its findings.

Yesterday families of the victims presented a bag marked 'the suitcase that never was' to Mr Baggott.

It was a symbolic reference to the RUC duty officer's report from the day following the bomb which stated a man had left a suitcase containing the explosives in the bar for it to be picked up by an IRA member.

Ciaran MacAirt - grandson of Kitty Irvine who was killed in the UVF bomb attack - read out a statement on behalf of the families.

"We have brought a suitcase here today for the Chief Constable," the statement said.

"This symbolises the years of lies and deception.

"The suitcase that never was but which was invented by RUC officers. The IRA bomb that was in fact a UVF bomb."

The statement said the families no longer want an apology from the Chief Constable, saying "the time has passed" and after so many years it "would serve no purpose".

"What we do want to hear from the Chief Constable is if he now accepts the report of the Police Ombudsman."

Mr Baggott said that he had needed time to digest the report and that his offer to meet the families remains open.

Background

The McGurk's Bar bombing was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, killing 15 and injuring a further 16.

The bomb was planted outside the bar in Belfast's North Queen Street area by the UVF.

The RUC blamed the bomb on an IRA 'own goal' saying the bomb had gone off by accident.

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