The bombing of McGurk’s Bar and the loss of innocence…

I meant to get this up on Slugger last week, but since I was out on the hoof from Tuesday to Thursday I never quite found the time to get to it. It’s a video pulled together from interviews conducted by Northern Visions of family members of the victims of the bomb at McGurk’s bar in New Lodge.

There’s barely any politics in the first part, although it does give a flavour of the times with some fragmentary details of decency in the midst of great and overwhelming tragedy at the time. You also get a sense of how far the state had set itself against the nationalist community, and just how little they knew them.

In the second part, you get much more of a political reading. Ciaran MacAirt recounts some of the initial lines of official enquiry, that erroneously report members of his family as being members of the IRA. Certainly there was a gun battle that night, and one soldier must be counted as a victim of the tragic circumstances that night.

But as Malachi O’Doherty unflinchingly reports in his great book, The Telling Year, some of the stories that went round for months after bore little or no resemblance to the truth of the bombing:

McGurk’s was a family bar. Philomena, the mother, and 14 year-old Maria, who lived there, would be among the dead. The final toll was 15 dead from the explosion and one soldier shot dead. Of the dead in the bar, eight suffocated in the rubble. Initially we believed that the bomb had exploded inside the bar. Jim himself later told me that an IRA man was punished for not collecting the bomb.

That was what the gossip said. Terrorism experts later wrote that the IRA had been training others in the construction of a bomb when it had gone off. That explained, they said, the clustering of bodies inside the bar; they had all been leaning over the gelignite to see how it was detonated.

That was an image that fitted in with the smug officer class assumption that the Irish were stupid.

Malachi goes on to report just how quickly the press turned its back on McGurk’s, the family, the victims, the wider community all somehow condemned in the public minds as complicit in their own ends. The videos are most telling in the detailed small shifts of attitude amongst the soldiers when they discovered just who the families were.

Paddy McGurk and his family were just one of many hundreds of innocent victims of the Troubles. But there are few instances when the victims themselves were so roundly, and unjustly, blamed for their own demise. The bomb was a UVF bomb, and left carelessly outside the bar by team whose original mission had failed.

As Malachi notes the words of a former loyalist friend, “You know, a lot sectarianism is just laziness; people weren’t ordered to kill random Catholics would do it because it was easier.”

You can pick up Ciaran MacAirt’s account of the bombing at the Slugger Bookshop

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  • Ulster Press Centre

    On a previous McGurks thread I asked did Ciaran’s book detail all of the events of that evening.

    The report into the bombing confirms that the IRA opened fire on the rescue teams (made up of RUC officers and British Army peacekeepers), forcing them to flee the scene until more reinforcements could be drafted in.

    The same reports also tells us only one of the victims died instantly from the explosion – with the rest of the dead being overcome by fumes, fire or being crushed.

    How many of the fifteen could have been saved had the IRA not opened fire on the scene and the RUC/Army rescuers been able to complete their dangerous work in a timely manner?

    Why are no fingers being pointed at the IRA over this large loss of life?

  • Scáth Shéamais

    Most of the comments on the book review thread ended up focused on that conversation.

    How about not sidetracking this thread?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    How about we get some answers from Ciaran and the McGurks families?

    Why is no blame attributed to the IRA members who opened fire on the rescue party – and thus probably caused the deaths of some who otherwise might have been saved??

    Ciaran??

  • Mick Fealty

    UPC, possibly because they took the rap for the longest time for the whole thing. Really, you have the right to ask pertinent questions, but not to harass people into answering them.

    I take a dim view of people who choose not engage with others who don’t share their views and opinions.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    If you take a look at the last thread that’s exactly what happened. Twenty or so Nationalists ganging up on someone asking relevant, important questions based on factual evidence from the official report.

    I’m not trolling, telling lies, or trying to go off-topic. If one of my relatives was lying dying (but still alive) under rubble and an armed group opened fire on the scene and halted the rescue my anger, frustration and time would be focused on bringing the armed men to justice – not trying to demonise the very people who risked their lives searching for survivors.

    Why were these very important details deliberately left out of Ciaran’s book and the documentary movie??

  • Dec

    UPC

    Interesting that in 3 posts you’ve referred to the IRA (directly or indirectly) a total of 6 times, yet have not once mentioned the UVF who planted the bomb.

    ‘How about we get some answers from Ciaran and the McGurks families?’

    I’m struggling to think of another atrocity where answers have been demanded from the victim’s families.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Dec: I’m struggling to think of another atrocity where answers have been demanded from the victim’s families.

    Ciaran has been the front for the families’ campaign in recent years. He has also written a book and, I presume, been heavily involved in the documentary movie – both of which totally ignore the IRA’s role in delaying the rescue of the fourteen victims who did not die instantly.

    Either there is a deliberate attempt to cover up this part of the night’s events, or both are shoddily produced and have omitted the information due to a lack of thorough preparation.

    Which might it be?

  • Mick Fealty

    Honestly UPC, just ask your question and wait for an answer… If you get pinged it will not be for asking the question (which is a fair one) but for not waiting for an answer…

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Roger. Until I get an answer from Ciaran (no luck on Twitter either, by the way) I’ll only comment on this thread if it’s a direct question aimed at me.

  • tacapall

    UPC Major Snow was no where near McGurks bar when he was shot in fact he was trying to break up rioting between rival factions with some loyalists singing party songs and waving union jacks at the thought of fenians being burnt to death. Maybe you should do a bit of research into Kelly’s bar bombing to find the answer your looking for, the UVF shot at survivors and those who aided the injured on that occasion.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Tacapall,

    1, The official report says shots were fired at the scene and the rescue party had to flee – leaving the injured where they fell
    2, I didn’t mention Major Snow
    3, This topic isn’t about Kellys Bar.

    Mick has made it clear he doesn’t want this thread drifting – please keep it that way.

  • tacapall

    Official Report ! Was that by the same people who said the victims were responsible for their own deaths. Kelly’s bar is relevant because the same people carried it out and the same people announced in parliament that it was an own goal, just like McGurks and on that occasion the UVF opened fire on survivors and those helping the injured, killing one. Maybe it was the UVF who opened fire on those tending the injured at McGurks too If you have any proof otherwise then put it into the public domain..

  • John Ó Néill

    Ulster Press Conference – none of the contemporary accounts mention anyone fleeing the scene after shots being fired at McGurks Bar – the sole reference you are interpreting is presumably this paragraph in the Ombudsmans Report:
    7.11 Within two hours of the explosion, serious disorder had broken out in the vicinity. Records show that at one point during the rescue operation police personnel were fired upon and had to withdraw from the scene. An Army Major was shot and fatally wounded. Four civilians and two police officers were also shot and wounded.

    This is a conveniently loose mash-up of various incidents some of which are listed here in the RUCs operational summary of the evening. I also quoted another contemporary account by Ciaran McKeown in a previous thread (see here). McKeown mentions that, at one point, rescuers had to stand aside due to the risk of the another gas explosion, but nowhere does he remotely imply that any shots were fired at the scene of the explosion. The Army Major, Jeremy Snow, was wounded at Hillman Street, a considerable distance from McGurks, also shots were reportedly observed from Girdwood barracks (at the top end of the New Lodge). Ciaran (MacAirt) also includes an account of at least one shot being fired at a riot in Newington in his book. No contemporary source documents shots at the bomb site.

    And there can be no doubt that the RUC report would definitely have included any shooting as part of its ‘proof’ that it was an IRA bomb. They claimed the IRA shot one of its own members for failing to collect the bomb a week or two later, and even still listed the bomb in McGurks in the charges against a republican who was interned a couple of years later.

    But when the RUC can falsely claim that the bomb went off inside the bar while being handled, that the IRA shot a member for failing to collect it and they then include the bombing in charges against an internee, and that those myths can persist for years, it is hardly surprising that today someone can invent the claim that republicans fired shots at those trying to rescue the dead and dying from the ruins of the bar and expect that people might believe him.

  • http://www.themcgurksbarmassacre.com/ Ciarán MacAirt

    Sorry, but I have been working so I would not have been able to respond. If I am being honest, I would not normally respond to such as this except I would not like to see another healthy discussion ruined by the same commentary as the previous thread regarding McGurk’s Bar. I considered that John Ó Néill had dealt with it effectively then (as well as giving us a salutary lesson in how lies can be disseminated and the waters muddied). I am also grateful to those who have taken the time to watch the film and respond.
    In answer to the ever-anonymous Ulster Press Centre, I used RUC reports, British MoD archives and a British Army published log of the events of that night, backed by witness testimony. I would query whether he has read my book at all for, if he has, he has not read it too closely. I am repeating what I cover in the book.
    As recorded in the log of the 2nd Battalion of Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the bomb occurred at 847pm and the shooting of Major Snow, a company commander of 2RRF, was much later at 1030pm. This is supported by RUC duty officer reports and, of course, witnesses. Ulster Press Centre should read the battalion’s own diary of their time in Belfast, Four Months in Winter (David Barzilay), as it contains much of this following information.
    The IRA did not shoot at British soldiers on the actual site of the bombing but opened up further along North Queen Street (about a quarter of a mile up the road). Major Jeremy Snow had alighted from a vehicle and was directing his troops to take up position in between rioters from Tiger’s Bay and the New Lodge. An IRA man opened up from the corner of Hillman Street and hit Major Snow, mortally wounding him. It was Major Snow’s troops (C Company 2RRF) who had helped to dig out survivors and dead alike further down the road and I faithfully record their actions, including for example how they visited a wake house to pay their respects. This very human gesture is also covered in the film (which I assume Ulster Press Centre has not viewed or, if so, not too closely).
    All of the victims were dead within minutes and long before any shooting started – that is a fact from pathology/coroner reports. Again I cover this in the book. We can be rest assured that if victims had died after this particular shooting (nearly two hours after the bombing), the RUC press office and BA Information Policy Unit would have gained great mileage from it as it befitted particular information policy “themes” at that time – again covered in depth in my book. Colin Wallace who wrote the foreword to the book knew Major Snow, was on duty in British Army HQ that night and writes about his death in his foreword. Heaven knows where Ulster Press Centre is getting the notion that any of our family members could have been saved except the IRA had attacked the British Army a quarter of a mile away and one hour and 45 minutes after the bombing. The particular section of the Police Ombudsman report that he has mentioned is taken out of context as the investigators nowhere say that victims died because of IRA actions hampered their rescue.
    Again, if Ulster Press Centre had taken the time to read my book properly or at all, he would not need to ask these questions. Nevertheless, rather than have him ruin other people’s experience of Slugger on this particular thread, he should email me directly at [email protected]. If he is the same person who aired similar baseless views on Twitter, I had invited him to the screening of this film so I could meet him and engage with him properly. The last I heard of him on Twitter was when he threatened to complain to the Movie House for showing such a film even though he had not even seen it. If he checks his Direct Messages for the end of January, he will see I told him that the victims were dead within minutes so his question was answered weeks ago. In instances like these it is very easy to hide behind anonymity although I would still welcome proper engagement if Ulster Press Centre ever feels he can engage human being to human being. We might learn something from each other.

  • Submariner

    “I would still welcome proper engagement if Ulster Press Centre ever feels he can engage human being to human being. We might learn something from each other.”

    Ciaran as a self confessed supporter of the sectarian murder gang known as the UVF I doubt he even sees you as a human being. As for your book I have just begun reading it and i too was struck by the section dealing with how the ordinary squaddies came to the bereaved to pay their respect .Now that is the actions of real soldiers showing common humanity and in sharp contrast to the pure sectarian hatred and bigotry shown by a self confessed supporter of a sectarian murder gang. BTW I have not yet seen the film,could you let me know where I may view it.?

  • SK

    “Interesting that in 3 posts you’ve referred to the IRA (directly or indirectly) a total of 6 times, yet have not once mentioned the UVF who planted the bomb.”

    _______

    That would be because this particular contributor has openly expressed his unequivocal support for the UVF.

    Why he’s given the time of day here is a mystery.

  • Kevsterino

    As much as I enjoy Twitter, it has to be understood that it doesn’t take a genius, gentleman or scholar to get a Twitter account. Just because misleading specious blather can be found on advanced media, doesn’t advance it beyond being misleading specious blather.

    Thank you for your input, Mr. MacAirt. I appreciate all you’ve done to make the event at McGurk’s more understandable. Sorry you have to suffer fools because you try to enlighten.

  • carl marks

    UPC
    I was at a youth disco at the bottom of the new lodge rd (I was a pupil at CBS Hardinge st) the night the bomb went off,
    I school friend of mine was killed in the explosion (he was doing his homework in the home of the bar owners), everybody attending the disco went to the bombsite to try and help, we were moved back by the army who had already started to go through the rubble ( i might be a bit hazy on details it was a long time ago and to say the least confusion was rife) we stayed for at least a hour and by that time most if not all of the wounded and dead were removed.
    While i wasn’t there when the shooting started but I can assure you disgraceful as it was it did not happen when the rescue operation was underway.
    It is disgraceful (if not unexpected) of you to concentrate on the gun battle and not the cruel murder of the innocent people, what do loyalists have to do for you to condemn them?
    That was a terrible time many innocent people died, the lies told (which you are continuing with) about what happened were obscene,

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks guys. Engagement is all we ask for. Carl and Ciarán, your contribution is much appreciated.

    Sub, you are headed directly for a permanent exclusion. You may not like your critics, but there is only one way to deal with them here and that’s with superior argument and knowledge.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Ciaran, many thanks for finally engaging but again you are merely contradicting the official Police Ombudsman’s Report.

    You state:

    ‘The IRA did not shoot at British soldiers on the actual site of the bombing but opened up further along North Queen Street (about a quarter of a mile up the road).’

    But this is at odds with the accepted PO report – which states:

    7.11 ‘Within two hours of the explosion, serious disorder had broken out in the vicinity. Records show that at one point during the rescue operation police personnel were fired upon and had to withdraw from the scene.’

    You also state:

    All of the victims were dead within minutes and long before any shooting started – that is a fact from pathology/coroner reports.

    But Lost Lives – covering the official pathology/coroner reports from the time reports only one of the victims died form the blast and on the rest says:

    ‘Eight of the victims died from crush asphyxia, three from burns, two from multiple injuries, one from the blast and crushing and one from carbon monoxide poisoning’

    Nowhere does it state how long it took for fourteen of the fifteen victims to actually die.

    How many of the fourteen other deaths (burns, crushing, poisoning, etc) could have been prevented had the local IRA actually helped search for survivors in the rubble – instead of trying to murder members of the rescue party???

    Also, while you’re finally engaging would you mind answering a few other questions for me?

    1, Do you accept the IRA bear more responsibility for the deaths of the McGurks victims than the British Army peacekeepers and RUC (due to their role in disrupting the rescue mission)?

    2, Do you condemn the McGurks families who take part in IRA celebrations and commemoration parades? Isn’t this a little hypocritical and damaging to your campaign?

    3, Are the profits from the book and documentary going to a McGurks victims charity of some sort?

    Many thanks,
    UPC

  • Mick Fealty

    And what about Carl’s eye witness report?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Mick Fealty: And what about Carl’s eye witness report?

    Do you think an anonymous, unverifiable internet claim is more credible than the official Police Ombudsman’s report (accepted by the families) and the account in Lost Lives?

    There’s nothing to stop me setting up an alias and claiming to be an eye-witness who says the opposite of carl has claimed. Where would we be then?

  • Mick Fealty

    In this context, yep. Otherwise, why converse? The reason I’ve carded people here is that they refuse to engage in good faith. If you can’t, and submariner really is stretching bounds, then I don’t understand what weight you think others will give your opinions.

  • John Ó Néill

    Mick – check the pending posts for this thread?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Sorry Mick, let me clarify that.

    You think an anonymous, unverifiable internet claim is more credible than the official Police Ombudsman’s report?

    Are you serious?

  • carl marks

    Mick
    I know many of my school friends who I could produce to verify my story.
    But I have said what I know, last night I didn’t sleep very well and to tell you the truth this was a place I didn’t want to go back to.
    S o I won’t be going back again.
    To the victims and to those who live every day, with what happened I feel for you, I only live with it now and then.
    I will not be contributing to this thread again.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes. Deadly serious!!!

  • Mick Fealty

    Understood Carl. UPC, why on earth do you think Id waste my time protecting your right to speak if I thought your anonymity detracted value from what you have to say?

    And why would the same not apply to others?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    But how can you think it is more credible than the Police Ombudsman’s report? Look at the research and years of work put in to compile it.

    Please explain as I am stumped.

  • Submariner

    Sub, you are headed directly for a permanent exclusion. You may not like your critics, but there is only one way to deal with them here and that’s with superior argument and knowledge.

    Mick critics? I like many other’s have had friends and family murdered by terrorists from both sides so you will forgive me if I find it distasteful when a self confessed supporter of a sectarian murder gang tries to lay blame for one of worst atrocities of the troubles on the victims instead of those who carried it out. I lost one of my closest friends who was murdered in a mortar attack on Newry police station by the scrum in the IRA. I have heard other’s try to justify his murder by trying to blame him for joining the police and not those who carried out the murder. This is just them same thing as UPC is doing and I will continue to point that out

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Submariner: …so you will forgive me if I find it distasteful when a self confessed supporter of a sectarian murder gang tries to lay blame for one of worst atrocities of the troubles on the victims instead of those who carried it out.

    Please point out where I have done that.

  • tacapall

    For a start UPC you are refusing to even acknowledge it was the UVF who were ultimately responsible for murdering those who died in McGurks bar. You’re clinging by the fingernails to a report by a discredited Ombudsman who had to resign because his own staff refused to stand by his reports.

  • Submariner

    The fact that you are completely ignoring that it was the UVF that planted the bomb and caused the explosion. It is they who were responsible for the deaths sand no one else. Now let me ask you. Do you condemn the actions of the UVF that night for deliberately targeting civilians for murder?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    tacapall: For a start UPC you are refusing to even acknowledge it was the UVF who were ultimately responsible for murdering those who died in McGurks bar.

    Again, please stop making these totally untruthful claims and stick to debating the points and questions I have raised.

  • tacapall

    Sorry there UPC I didn’t know you were the sheriff around these parts but what untruthful claims am I making.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    tacapall: Sorry there UPC I didn’t know you were the sheriff around these parts but what untruthful claims am I making.

    This:

    For a start UPC you are refusing to even acknowledge it was the UVF who were ultimately responsible for murdering those who died in McGurks bar.

    And your comrade:

    The fact that you are completely ignoring that it was the UVF that planted the bomb and caused the explosion.

    Utter drivel and totally untrue. Now knock it on the head.

  • tacapall

    UPC was it the UVF who made the bomb that was placed in McGurks bar ? Was a UVF member given 15 life sentences after admitting his part in the bombing ? Did the RUC and the British government try then just like you are to somehow blame the victims themselves or the IRA for the bombing ? Did Al Hutchinson have to resign because his staff refused to support his findings on a number of inquiries including his report on McGurks.

  • Mick Fealty

    I remember that attack Sub. I was working in Barr’s Hill Community centre just a couple days beforehand (February 85, IIRC?).

    Only last week I met a guy who’s Police Reserve uncle narrowly escaped an assassination attempt and who’s bullet riddled car we passed in traffic a little earlier in that same month.

    The point is that there is a authoritative, non personalising way to deal with criticism, and trolling. UPC is welcome here as you are. But only in so far as you accept the others right and authority to speak as equals.

    UPC,

    I can see you are puzzled. But I am absolutely crystal clear that CM is speaking in good faith (partly because I know over time, when he’s not). Of course, I may be wrong about that and open to specific challenge in that judgement.

    A shocking amount of misinformation has been fed into the mainframe memory of McGurks, and so far as I’m concerned the official version, especially after so much time has elapsed, is likely to be incomplete.

    I don’t see anything in what CM says that is directly contracted by an official account, or at least not in the absence of a reliable timeline.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Mick Fealty: I don’t see anything in what CM says that is directly contracted by an official account, or at least not in the absence of a reliable timeline.

    Carl said this:

    While i wasn’t there when the shooting started but I can assure you disgraceful as it was it did not happen when the rescue operation was underway.

    But the official report says:

    Within two hours of the explosion, serious disorder had broken out in the vicinity. Records show that at one point during the rescue operation police personnel were fired upon and had to withdraw from the scene.

    Now, one of these two accounts is incorrect. Either it is the unverifiable guy on an internet discussion website or it’s the Police Ombudsman’s report – written by the people who had access to every shred of evidence gathered since the night the bomb went off and who’s report is accepted by all of the McGurks families.

    I know who my money’s going on.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, I don’t think they are contradictory. I’ve no reason to believe that CM is speaking other than the truth. And without much finer detail, nor have you.

    Have you actually watched the videos yet?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Mick Fealty: Well, I don’t think they are contradictory. I’ve no reason to believe that CM is speaking other than the truth. And without much finer detail, nor have you.

    I have the Ombudsman’s report – accepted by all of the families. It states shots were fired during the rescue mission and caused the RUC and British peacekeepers to flee.

    Carl says there was no firing until the rescue was complete.

    Only one of those two statements can be true. If you believe Carl then you must believe the Ombudsman’s report is wrong. that would put you at odds with the McGurks families.

    Have you actually watched the videos yet?

    Yes. Same as the book – no mention of the IRA’s role in possibly increasing the death toll from the bombing by trying to murder the rescuers.

  • Submariner

    Correct Mick 28th February 1985 I was serving in the navy at the time and can still remember turning on the news and the shock of seeing my friend’s face on the screen as the report of the attack was broadcast. I managed to get home to his funeral mass. Two things from that day have remained with me,the chapel was packed to overflowing for a police funeral and the fact that James molyneaux and John Taylor who were in attendance would not even enter the chapel grounds but remained on the main road until the cortege left the chapel grounds.

  • tacapall

    Here is the report UPC please point out where it says the IRA or indeed any republican group opened fire on rescuers.

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/police/ombudsman/po210211mcgurk.pdf

  • Mick Fealty

    UPC,

    Rules of evidence apply. I’m not asking CM to come into this, because I find the whole thing more than a little distasteful myself.

    But I am going to say to you that you should provide us with sufficient admissible evidence for us to doubt CM, or put a sock in it.

    If you have the Ombudsman’s report, quote us the line(s)? They’d better be good and detailed and leave NO room for doubt.

    Otherwise you, my friend, are walking very very close to the edge.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Mick Fealty: Rules of evidence apply. I’m not asking CM to come into this, because I find the whole thing more than a little distasteful myself.

    But I am going to say to you that you should provide us with sufficient admissible evidence for us to doubt CM, or put a sock in it.

    If you have the Ombudsman’s report, quote us the line(s)? They’d better be good and detailed and leave NO room for doubt.

    Otherwise you, my friend, are walking very very close to the edge.

    Do you not read the comments before you respond to them?

    My post at 5:36am provides the exact wording from the Ombudsman’s report. Here it is again just for your benefit:

    ‘7.11 – Within two hours of the explosion, serious disorder had broken out in the vicinity. Records show that at one point during the rescue operation police personnel were fired upon and had to withdraw from the scene.’

    Would you like a screengrab too???

  • John Ó Néill

    I posted this last night so it’s out of sequence but still relevant.

    Ulster Press Conference – none of the contemporary accounts mention anyone fleeing the scene after shots being fired at McGurks Bar – the sole reference you are interpreting is presumably this paragraph in the Ombudsmans Report:
    7.11 Within two hours of the explosion, serious disorder had broken out in the vicinity. Records show that at one point during the rescue operation police personnel were fired upon and had to withdraw from the scene. An Army Major was shot and fatally wounded. Four civilians and two police officers were also shot and wounded.
    This is a conveniently loose mash-up of various incidents some of which are listed in the RUCs operational summary of the evening. I also quoted another contemporary account by Ciaran McKeown in a previous thread. McKeown mentions that, at one point, rescuers had to stand aside due to the risk of the another gas explosion, but nowhere does he remotely imply that any shots were fired at the scene of the explosion. The Army Major, Jeremy Snow, was wounded at Hillman Street, a considerable distance from McGurks, also shots were reportedly observed from Girdwood barracks (at the top end of the New Lodge). Ciaran (MacAirt) also includes an account of at least one shot being fired at a riot in Newington in his book. No contemporary source documents shots at the bomb site.
    And there can be no doubt that the RUC report would definitely have included any shooting as part of its ‘proof’ that it was an IRA bomb. They claimed the IRA shot one of its own members for failing to collect the bomb a week or two later, and even still listed the bomb in McGurks in the charges against a republican who was interned a couple of years later.
    But when the RUC can falsely claim that the bomb went off inside the bar while being handled, that the IRA shot a member for failing to collect it and they then include the bombing in charges against an internee, and that those myths can persist for years, it is hardly surprising that today someone can invent the claim that republicans fired shots at those trying to rescue the dead and dying from the ruins of the bar and expect that people might believe him.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    John, the rescue team will have included RUC officers, British Army peacekeepers, Ambulance staff and Fire Service personnel. It could have been any one of them who made the official record of the IRA gun attack on those digging for survivors.

    Regardless of that, the Police Ombudsman’s report accepts it as fact – the same report which is accepted by the McGurks families.

    Do you not accept the Ombudsman’s report?

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s what I call a #FAIL UPC… Take a Yellow, and let everyone else get on with what they want to say… Keep it up and it’s going RED…

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Sorry, have I entered some kind of parallel universe where factual evidence provided by the Police Ombudsman is not good enough but the unverifiable word of an anonymous internet poster is?

    What the hell is going on on this site???

    No wonder so few Unionists and Loyalists frequent the place.

  • Submariner

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=o7a9rsDlZUU

    Here is a link to a BBC news report of that day detailing the aftermath of the bombing including the rescue operation and that a human chain was formed by locals and army personnel to clear the rubble. It also mentions shooting but states that the shots were fired at troops trying to keep rival factions apart several hundred yards away at the sectarian interface. I believe that this contemporary news account offers a better handle on what happened than the speculation put forward by a supporter of the terrorists who carried out the atrocity in what i believe is an attempt in his own mind to lesson the culpability of those responsible for the bomb .

  • Mick Fealty

    Good find. When you are ready UPC, an apology will suffice…

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Submariner: Here is a link to a BBC news report of that day detailing the aftermath of the bombing including the rescue operation and that a human chain was formed by locals and army personnel to clear the rubble. It also mentions shooting but states that the shots were fired at troops trying to keep rival factions apart several hundred yards away at the sectarian interface. I believe that this contemporary news account offers a better handle on what happened than the speculation put forward by a supporter of the terrorists who carried out the atrocity in what i believe is an attempt in his own mind to lesson the culpability of those responsible for the bomb .

    So if I produced a newspaper report from the time saying ‘IRA own goal kills terrorists and civilians’ (or something along those lines) you would accept it as being just as credible as what you have just reproduced? Serious question.

    Mick Fealty: Good find. When you are ready UPC, an apology will suffice…

    Mick, why are you so keen to defend the IRA’s role in the McGurks bombing and it’s aftermath? You have said you are willing to accept the unverifiable word of an anonymous internet poster and newspaper reports from the time over the thoroughly researched Police Ombudsman’s report (which is accepted as truthful by the McGurks families).

    Rather than throwing yellow cards around and threatening to ban someone who disagrees with you, why don’t you explain why you don’t accept the Ombudsman’s report? Why do you not accept the same report which was accepted by the McGurks family?

    Why don’t you put a blog together with your concerns and rebuttals of the Police Ombudsman’s report?

    You’re losing credibility on this issue.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s exactly what 6crealist said before I banned him. Ive no problem with your argument. In fact Ive issued cards on this rhread in order to defend your right to make it.

    All I ask for is that you make your argument with due respect for others. Now, just produce your proof, along the lines of the rules of evidence, or take the card?

    Your choice?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    I’ve already produced the evidence multiple times!

    Police Ombudsman’s report (accepted by the McGurks families):

    “7.11 – Within two hours of the explosion, serious disorder had broken out in the vicinity. Records show that at one point during the rescue operation police personnel were fired upon and had to withdraw from the scene.”

    PDF here: http://www.policeombudsman.org/Publicationsuploads/McGurk%27s—Final-Report.pdf

    Surely an independent report which took years to compile and sifted through every shred of evidence available is more credible and reliable than unverifiable eye-witness accounts (which we must presume were not given to the police or Police Ombudsman during their investigation)?

    Anyone looking at the two conflicting accounts blinker-free would have to accept the Police Ombudsman’s report is by far the most credible – indeed the McGurks families obviously feel the same way.

  • Mick Fealty

    So, it’s a Red is it? Your choice mate. Let me tell you (once last time) what my position is on this, and how I have arrived at where I am:

    This a difficult historic conversation (http://goo.gl/WCJHB) about a bomb which exploded outside a family run pub in the Belfast of 1971. One reason why there were so many red herrings was that it was 1971. People believed the bomb was IRA because at the time, so many IRA men were killing themselves with their own crude devices.

    The video also suggest that the intelligence war which was to help rot the armed struggle from the inside out had not yet gotten underway. But it was the UVF who did it, ‘dropping’ the bomb lazily on a target with little or no Republican connections at all.

    So the general narrative has been mangled by misjudged speculation and abortive lines of police enquiry. I posted two videos of interviews will locals affected by that night’s events precisely because I hoped it would open new contexts. As is sometimes the case it has prompted someone to step forward and give personal testimony of what happened that night.

    So one of our regular (long term) commenters comes out and tells of his own experience of that night digging for bodies. He’d been at a youth disco. If you listen to the report on the video it clearly indicates a degree of co-operation between the army and the rescuers, and it also describes the youth of the rescuers and their half demented state in scrabbling through the rubble.

    You, let’s call you ‘another commenter’, just to demonstrate you have no higher a status than CS, then disputes the ‘testimony’ of the first:

    UPC: “Do you think an anonymous, unverifiable internet claim is more credible than the official Police Ombudsman’s report (accepted by the families) and the account in Lost Lives?”

    Me: *In this context, yep. Otherwise, why converse? The reason I’ve carded people here is that they refuse to engage in good faith. If you can’t then I don’t understand what weight you think others will give your opinions.”

    My take away: anonymity does not undermine credibility if the information provided is credible (application of the rules of evidence: http://goo.gl/F9pdn); and the person concerned has acquired a reasonable degree of social provenance within in the space here.

    Now, David Ervine (who at the time of this bombing was not a UVF terrorists) always to say that you cannot rationally argue someone out of a position they have adopted emotionally. I think that’s what we have here.

    I’m in a position where I have already bucked out one Nationalist commentator for playing the man (ie you), and now I am having to contemplate throwing you out for doing the same. Why is it the same? Because you are now effectively using dud evidence to call another commenter a liar. Why is it dud? Because it is far too broad to be able to disprove conclusively what CS has said about that night.

    If my reputation takes knock, so be it. We have only one rule worth observing rigorously especially in emotional conversations like this one. That is you stick to your argument, and make it. And if you are going to take someone out, you do it by the merits of that argument.

    Yours; he’s lying mister, fails for lack for lack fo proof. Stick around, or stay in. But them’s the rules.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    You might have a point if my evidence was ‘I was there and seen the rescuers flee as they came under fire’. That would be one person’s word against another and you would be well within your rights to pick a side.

    However, I have provided a word-for-word lift from the Police Ombudsman’s report – a document accepted as accurate by the victims’ families – which totally contradicts the eye witness account posted on this thread.

    If you regard it to be ‘dud evidence’ then you should explain why. You have yet to do so.

    Otherwise, I’ll let it be and leave the readers of this discussion to make up their own minds who has been carrying out a rational, reasoned discussion and who has buried their head in the sand.

  • Mick Fealty

    Because your word-for-word quote does not falsify what CS says. It’s way too broad…

  • Ulster Press Centre

    I give up! We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • Submariner

    UPC that news report I posted the link to was recorded on the night of the bombing or at most the day after. I believe it provides a more accurate insight into the aftermath than the one vague sentence from an ombudsman report (who’s publication I would remind you was delayed due to inaccurate content) that you cling to so desperately like some sort of comfort blanket. As for your question on why I and others are ignoring the IRA s part in the bombing it’s because they played no part in it. The people responsible for the bombing were the UVF a ruthless sectarian murder gang who you openly support and no one else. Now I’m clear in my mind why you are clinging to this line in the report so desperately but just so everyone else is also clear I want to ask you a couple of questions to which I would like a clear answer.
    1. Do you accept that the bombing was carried out by the UVF
    2. Do you accept that the UVF planted the bomb deliberately targeting innocent civilians for no other reason than they were Catholics.
    3. Do you believe the UVF were justified in carrying out the bombing or do you condemn them for being a bunch of sectarian mass murdering terrorists.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    So if I provided a contemporary newspaper piece stating ‘IRA own goal kills terrorists and pub customers’ (or something along those lines) you would accept it as factual and more credible than the PO report which states that did not happen??

  • Mick Fealty

    Has anyone actually got anything to say about the videos, or anything else mentioned in the post?

  • Submariner

    As a matter of interest are you going to answer the questions put to you in the previous post.?
    That report I believe comes from a reporter who was on the scene in the aftermath of the bombing so which makes him an eyewitness so yes I give it more credence than one vague line from a report by a discredited ombudsman

  • Mick Fealty

    Just let it lie Sub, you’ve made your point to the satisfaction I am sure of anyone reading… That’s where trolls generally miss the significance of public comment.

  • Submariner

    Mick advice taken I think the point has been made.