Belfast Telegraph

Relative launches legal challenge after McGurk's Bar bombing inquest refused

A man who lost his parents in the McGurk's Bar bombing is mounting a legal challenge following the attorney general's decision not to order a fresh inquest into their deaths.

Fifteen people were killed in the bombing in December 1971, including Terence Keenan's parents, Edward and Sarah.

Victim's families have been campaigning for years for a fresh inquest into their loved one's deaths.

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

In July Attorney General John Larkin refused the families request.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Mr Keenan have now lodged papers in the High Court to initiate proceedings against the attorney general, hoping for a judicial review into the decision.

"Every right-thinking person knows that this decision was wrong," Mr Keenan told the BBC.

"There has been a vast amount of new information made available in recent years that was never put before the original inquest."

The bombing 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.

A UVF man was convicted for his part in the attack in 1978.

A Police Ombudsman’s report in 2011 said RUC officers had shown an “investigative bias” with the original mis-attribution 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 twist, Mr Baggott’s successor George Hamilton reversed the police’s position in 2015, acknowledging there was bias in the initial RUC investigation.

He said the HET report findings had been amended to reflect the change in stance.

Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin welcomed the fresh legal challenge to the attorney general's decision.

“It is wrong that the Attorney General refused a fresh inquest into the McGurk’s Bar massacre," the North Belfast MLA said.

“These families have been campaigning for truth and justice for 47 years.

“There are still too many unanswered questions about the involvement of various state agencies in the attack both before and after the massacre of 15 people,"

“A fresh inquest would be an opportunity to test in the courts the mounting weight of evidence, painstakingly uncovered by families and campaigners about the involvement of the state."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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