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Report says police probe into McGurk's Bar atrocity was handled properly

The Police Ombudsman's findings

Allegation 1: Police did not conduct a thorough investigation into the bombing.

Finding: Not substantiated.

The Ombudsman’s Office said the absence of detailed record keeping by the police has hindered its ability to establish answers to all the questions asked by the complainants but it is “satisfied that in the context of 1971 and on the balance of probabilities, the police did conduct a reasonably thorough investigation”.

It said “a substantial amount of resources were allocated to the investigation in December 1971 and that the Senior Investigating Officer considered a number of differing hypotheses as to who was responsible for the bombing”.

Allegation 2: There was collusion between the bombers and the security forces.

Finding: Not substantiated.

The report said no evidence has been found that police or the security forces conspired with the bombers before, during or after the incident.

The Ombudsman’s Office said investigators did not find any evidence police had prior knowledge of the attack or that they could have done anything to prevent it.

It said that examinations of military records show that, due to an escape from Crumlin Road Prison, the area was on the highest of security alerts.

Allegation 3: Police briefed then Minister of State John Taylor with false information claiming the explosion was accidental, resulting from republican terrorists preparing a bomb inside the bar.

Finding: Not substantiated.

The Ombudsman's Office has seen documents passed between the military and Government discussing the possibility that republicans had been preparing the bomb in the bar before planting it elsewhere and sought to promote it as an IRA “own goal”.

“There is no doubt that there was a desire to plant in the minds of the public the idea that the bombing was by the IRA. The documentation we have seen, which not only discusses this aim but considers how it may be achieved, was documentation between the Army and the Government,” the Ombudsman said.

“We have found no evidence that police had discussed promoting such an idea. What is clear, however, is that police let this belief go unchallenged.

“While it is understandable that police would not want to discuss the evidence of their investigation in public, they were at one stage in a position to refute allegations of an ‘IRA own goal'. Police Ombudsman investigators have not established why this did not happen.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph