Belfast Telegraph

Families despondent as fresh McGurk's Bar bomb inquest rejected

Atrocity: McGurk's Bar bombing
Atrocity: McGurk's Bar bombing

By Cate McCurry

Relatives of those killed in a Belfast bar bombing have said they are unhappy with the Attorney General's decision not to hold a fresh inquest into the atrocity.

Fifteen people were killed in the McGurk's Bar bombing in December 1971.

The bomb was carried out by the UVF, but at the time security forces blamed the IRA, prompting speculation the dead might have included IRA members who were carrying the device.

Relatives and campaigners have discovered large amounts of new evidence not heard at the original inquest held the year after the massacre.

KRW Law, which represents a number of the victims' families, said: "We have been informed that the Attorney General for Northern Ireland has refused an application made by KRW on behalf of the families to direct a fresh inquest into the McGurk's Bar bombing.

"KRW and the families will be considering the reasons for this decision over the following days.

"The families are unhappy with the decision given the serious difficulties they have faced in establishing the truth concerning the death of their loved ones.

"There is ongoing public law and civil litigation being pursued before the courts in Northern Ireland.

"The decision of the Attorney General is unwelcome and his response will be carefully analysed."

A UVF terrorist was convicted for his part in the attack in 1978 and a Police Ombudsman's report in 2011 said RUC officers had shown an "investigative bias" with the original misattribution of blame.

However, the PSNI's then-Chief Constable Matt Baggott refused to accept that particular finding by the Ombudsman and a subsequent probe by the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) concluded there was no such bias.

In a further development, Mr Baggott's successor George Hamilton reversed the police's position in 2015. He acknowledged there was bias in the initial RUC investigation. Mr Hamilton said the HET report findings had been amended to reflect the change in stance.

The office of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland had yet to respond to a request for comment by the time of going to press.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon MLA expressed her disappointment at the decision.

The North Belfast MLA said: "The relatives of those massacred in the McGurk's Bar bomb in December 1971 have campaigned tirelessly for 47 years for truth and justice for their loved ones. Once again they have been denied the opportunity to establish the truth about what happened that day."

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