“I’ve decided not to formally publish the report until I’ve heard their concerns…”

According to the BBC report

Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson has withdrawn his report into the 1971 McGurk’s bar bomb.

But the quotes in the BBC report from Al Hutchinson point to it being only a delay in publication.

Mr Hutchinson said he was aware of the criticisim and had decided not to publish the report until he heard relatives’ concerns “in detail”.

“I think it’s appropriate to acknowledge we didn’t deal with the families very well and I need to listen to them personally and hear the specific concerns that they’ve raised.

“So I’ve decided not to formally publish the report until I’ve heard their concerns and assessed what they are.”

And, as RTÉ correctly notes, there is a statement on the Ombudsman’s website on the findings of the investigation

Allegation One: That police did not conduct a thorough investigation into the bombing.

Finding One: Not Substantiated.

The Police Ombudsman’s Office has 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.

However, given the available evidence of police activity, it is satisfied that in the context of 1971 and on the balance of probabilities, the police did conduct a reasonably thorough investigation.

The Office has established that 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.

Police Ombudsman investigators have established that some of the people believed to be responsible for the bombing were arrested for terrorist offences, although this was not done in a coordinated operation after the bombing or following the arrest of the man who was subsequently convicted of the murders. They have not been able to establish conclusively if the suspects were ever questioned about the bombing or what actions were taken.

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

Finding Two: Not Substantiated. Police Ombudsman investigators have found no evidence that police or the security forces conspired with the bombers before, during or after the incident nor any evidence of police criminality or misconduct.

Investigators examined information held within the police system at that time and, although their remit is limited to police, also looked at military archives and interviewed retired military officers.

The allegations made to the Police Ombudsman’s Office in this respect relate to concerns that security cordons were removed from the area to allow the terrorists safe passage. Investigators did not find any evidence police had prior knowledge of the attack or that they could have done anything to prevent it. Examinations of military records show that, due to an escape from the Crumlin Road Prison, the area was on the highest of security alerts. The records did not provide any details of the vehicle checkpoints in the area at the time.

Allegation Three: That police briefed the then Minister of State with false information claiming the explosion was accidental, resulting from Republican terrorists preparing a bomb inside the public house.

Finding Three: Not Substantiated. The Police Ombudsman’s Office found no evidence that police supplied the Minister with information prior to his statement about the bomb. It is likely that the Minister’s information came from the military.

Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger.

While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.