03 June 2006

HET set to begin McGurk’s enquiry


In the next few weeks the Historical Enquiries Team will begin its investigation into the McGurk’s Bar bombing which claimed the lives of 15 people over 35 years ago.
Relatives of the families have been contacted by the team to advise them the case will be reopened by the police team based in Lisburn.
Pat Irvine who was a teenager when her mother Kathleen was killed in the attack on North Queen Street said she was confident that the information would prove the innocence of the victims.
“The information we have passed onto the HET unequivocably proves the innocence of the 15 people,” Pat Irvine said.
“The evidence is there, in fact the evidence was always there to support this. We are quietly confident that the case which is being looked into by the HET will bring to the families and the public, the truth and nothing but the truth as promised.”
Evidence supplied to the HET team from the families includes a statement from the State Pathologist’s Department to the RUC in March 1972 stating ‘unfortunately we are not able to help…. there were no injuries identifiable as specifically due to the bomb’.
The families are convinced this piece of evidence, and others puts holes in the original claims that those killed were involved in the planting of the bomb.
The families widely believe that collusion between loyalists and the security forces created the conditions and opportunity for the bombers to plant their deadly device.
It is widely believed that loyalists who carried out the McGurk’s bombing orchestrated by sections of the security forces were in fact targeting the nearby Gem bar in an attempt to create a feud between republicans.
However because of bystanders outside the Gem the bombers attacked McGurk’s and slaughtered 15 people including two children.
The case is also being investigating by the Police Ombudsman which was revealed in the North Belfast News last September.
The December 1971 atrocity was the largest loss of life before the Omagh bomb and the families hope the Ombudsman can uncover why no investigation took place into the outrage.
Relatives say it was one of the earliest cases of security force collusion in the conflict.
Only one man who confessed seven years later to his part in the atrocity has ever served a sentence for the mass murder.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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