Ombudsman’s Report into McGurk’s Bar

The report into the McGurk’s bar bombing has finally come out. It did come out previously when Al Hutchinson published his report to a storm of protest from the families. Hutchinson then promptly withdrew the report though bizarrely denied it was embarrassing: “I wouldn’t say it’s an embarrassment, I take it as a learning opportunity – we must do better.”

The new mark two report is now out (full report PDF here) and seems somewhat more to the families’ liking.

The basic facts seem no longer is doubt:

The bomb at McGurk’s Bar in Great George’s Street, Belfast, exploded on the evening of Saturday 4 December 1971, killing 15 people and injuring more than 16 others.
During the days which followed, the media carried speculation as to which terrorist group was responsible, including information attributed to police sources.
The issues the Ombudsman’s Report highlights include:

The police investigation had such a predisposition towards the view that the IRA were responsible for the bomb that this became an investigative bias.

The report continues:

The police gave selective briefings to the Government and to the media that Republican paramilitaries were responsible.

The Police Ombudsman has not found an explanation why successive Chief Constables have not addressed this erroneous perception.

The Ombudsman goes on to contextualise these failings:

The Police Ombudsman has acknowledged that the prevailing situation in Northern Ireland at the time presented significant challenges to policing. In particular he has recognised that for police officers and other emergency services to come under sustained gun attack in the vicinity of the bombing, which left one man dead and others injured, frustrated the initial work of the police.
However, he has concluded that the RUC investigation was not proportionate to the magnitude of the incident, which was one of the biggest losses of life during any incident of ‘The Troubles’ until the bombing of Omagh in 1998.
The Police Ombudsman’s investigation has established that the initial intelligence and information, which police received, presented them with a confusing picture as to who had carried out the attack. It has found that in the following weeks, despite emerging evidence supporting the alternative theory, the RUC became unduly influenced by information, which suggested that Republican paramilitaries had been responsible. It has concluded that police failed to give adequate consideration to the possible involvement of Loyalist paramilitaries.

He also found that:

There is no evidence that the RUC assisted those responsible for the UVF bombing of McGurk’s Bar in Belfast in 1971.

The report has concluded that while this fell short of collusion it precluded an effective investigation of the atrocity.

Some of the families seem satisfied by the outcome whereas others still seem to see collusion.

The Pat Finucane Centre and British Irish Watch have attacked PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott’s response:

“Mr Baggott’s statement falls very far short of the apology which the families deserve and which the circumstances demand,” they said in a statement.
“It also fails to fulfill the Ombudsman’s recommendation that he make a statement “to acknowledge the enduring pain caused to the families by the actions of police following the atrocity”.

The Finucane Centre has a point here. Clearly Baggott was not the leader of the RUC at the time and quite clearly there were circumstances which helped explain the RUC’s failure. They explain but do not excuse what was a significant and unacceptable failure for the RUC to do its duty. Baggott frequently displays a wish to move away from the events of the past. However, on this issue it is only right and proper that Baggott issue an apology.

The Finucane Centre’s response is, however, only one of the avenues of criticism which Baggott’s response could reasonably elicit. Baggott stated:

“It is my view that there appear to be no further investigative opportunities available.”
“At present all lines of inquiry have been exhausted but we will discuss any future opportunities with the Ombudsman,”

Only one person has ever been convicted of this, one of the worst acts of mass murder in recent British history. This individual only drove the getaway car and hence, whilst guilty clearly did not act alone. That Matt Baggott announces that there is nothing left to investigate is actually completely unacceptable. Quite clearly a number of persons must have conspired together to plan these murders, assemble the bomb, transport it to the public house, place it inside the building and yet only the getaway driver has been apprehended. For Baggott to dismiss the possibility of catching the rest of the murderers is a major dereliction of duty on his behalf.

There is no statute of limitation in this country; these murders were only forty years ago and hence, unless all the conspirators were aged over 40 (which is highly unlikely) it is almost inconceivable that they are all dead. Even if all of them were dead it would be reasonable for the police to identify those they feel most likely to have been responsible. Recently the police in England have identified the now deceased murderer of a young woman in Lancashire. The police officer in the BBC clip specifically stated “It has been the longest running murder enquiry in the Lancashire constabulary.” Quite clearly the Lancashire constabulary regard an unsolved murder as an open case. Matt Baggott needs to apply the same thoroughness and professionalism which the Lancashire force are clearly willing to. Closer to home in the recent past the PSNI have named Father Cheasney as one of the Claudy murderers: as such there is a clear precedent for naming any deceased persons thought likely to have committed this horrific mass murder.

Matt Baggott now needs to name those deceased whom the police think committed this loathsome sectarian murder or if all the perpetrators are not dead (much the most likely scenario) the police need to start devoting significant resources to catching those who committed this mass murder. Saying it was forty years ago and so does not matter is completely unacceptable: catching criminals is a major part of Matt Baggott’s job. The Policing Board need to hold him to account over this and if Baggott is unwilling to perform the function of ensuring the resources needed to catch the murderers are made available then he is not up to the job and should be replaced. The rule of law has not been abandoned in this part of the United Kingdom and it is about time it was made clear to Baggott that that means he needs to show significantly more interest in the crimes of the past. The McGurk’s Bar massacre would be a good place to start.

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Good fair minded piece Turgon.

    Personally believe there should be a process for those involved in both the security forces and the paramiltiaries to
    outline and explain their actions.

    The British have made a good start with the Bloody Sunday investigation and Republicans should reciprocate – provided the fear of prosecution is removed.

  • Mark McGregor

    Makes a bit of a joke of the current RUC/PSNI line when dealing with criticism from dissenters – ‘they should contact the Ombudsman with any complaints’

    The new head British head of policing in the 6 counties dismisses the findings of that Ombudsman out of hand. No apology, no further investigation – close ranks and protect the comrades?

    And SF stand shoulder to shoulder with this man and call for republicans to tout to his staff when he clearly will protect the staff first and foremost.


  • Stephen Blacker

    It has been a long wait for the families, they must be happy and sad at the same time. Having the stigma of doubt put on the innocence of your murdered loved one must have been very stressful for all those years. Every effort must now be made to give these families full closure to any questions they have left unanswered.

    The Chief Constable should have been a bit wiser with his words because if the Ombudsman can find out all those details after this time surely the PSNI or HET can fill in any blanks. Every effort must be made to identify those involved so the families can have relief knowing that they did everything possible to get some form of justice for that empty chair.

    With these findings it is very obvious that misinformation was given to the population of the UK & Ireland. It makes me wonder what else was done over the years, this along with the fact that MI5 & Special Branch colluded with loyalists and republicans to the extent that they were allowed to commit murder.

  • Cynic2

    So, in the interest of fairness, can we see the first version of the report to see what was changed as a result of the families’ pressure?

  • Turgon

    Yes that had occurred to me as well. However, there also seem to have been some marked errors of fact about the victims which may have made the report non credible. Still if Hutchinson really felt that he regarded it as “a learning opportunity” it would be interesting to see what he had learned.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Mark McGregor,

    Republicans havent been very forthcoming revealing details of their own operations. The British and the Stormo authorities should set in place a process of revelaing the truth or we will simply have each ‘side’ calling for proscecutions that suits their own case and/or denying their actions in the absence of hard evidence.

    It is also unreasonable to expect the British to reveal more of thier operations when the person that most people consider was actaully running (at least strategically) the Republican insugency denies any involvement.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    It is highly unusual and indeed ridiculous for someone called in specifically for their expertise to suggest they were enjoying “a learning opportunity”.

    He should have been booted out after his first attempt and charged with impersonating a person who actually knew what they were doing.

  • Pete Baker


    Even though the statement has been removed, as noted at the time we have some of the original findings.

    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.

    Finding One seems to have changed significantly – Ombudsman’s press release.

    The police briefings are now described as “inconsistent”.

    But there is still “insufficient evidence” of collusion.

    Full NI Police Ombudsman’s report here [pdf file].

  • Banjaxed

    I was absolutely astounded at the insensitivity of Matt Baggott’s reply to the latest version of Al Hutchinson’s report – or, as the BBC had it, his ‘amended’ reply. An amended reply to an amended report, what next?

    Is it not time that Mr Baggott ceased to be an apologist for the discredited/sectarian force that was the RUC. How many times does he have to re-whiten that particular sepulchre?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    If you conduct an investigation you should as general rule have a modicum of credibility – if you admit that you are making it up as go along/enjoying “a learning opportunity”. you should expect your report not to be taken seriously.

    Although we cant classify him with Widgery as someone who clearly and deliberately perverted the course of Justice(allegedly) , we can fairly failry suggest that it has been a salutary ‘learning opportunity’ for those who appointed him and they should now admit their mistake.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I agree that Turgons Report is very fair-minded and balanced.

    It struck me however that the families had no real “need” to be vindicated. I think over time people would have reasonably come to the conclusion that this was a loyalist bomb……whatever the original attempted spin. As has been pointed out the investigation bias was bad enough…..and the unsubstantiated aspects are just that.unsubstantiated. People will tend to believe what they need to believe.

    I was 19 when this tragic event occurred and was also 19 at time of “Ballymurphy” where I lived and Bloody Sunday.
    Notwithstanding othe tragedies……attrocities even as bad and worse such as Bloody Friday, Claudy, La Mon, Teebane, Darkley etc etc…..this is not traditional whataboutery on my part…….I just wonder how my own life, subsequent thoughts and actions, not all of which Im proud…would have been different had the truth been told AT THE TIME.
    I emphasise this trio of events solely because they are seminal to me…..others will have a different trio or more.
    I am not a big fan of the cottage industry of (misnamed) “Reconciliation”, “Truth”, “Conflict Resolution” and “Creative Abiguity” . Indeed I am totally opposed to the “industry” but obviously ot the concept.
    The correct time was THEN for the truth about McGuirks……or La Mon…..or Darkley….or Claudy. Thats when lives were taken, limbs taken, spirits compromised.

    Leave the Past where it belongs……the Past.

  • Cynic2

    This was one of the worst crimes in the Troubles. Now we have two reports from the Ombudsman’s Office. The relatives didn’t like the first one so they complained and some of the findings appear to have been reversed. Not just amended. Radically reversed.

    If this is as it looks then there are two options here

    1 the relatives were right. The first report was a shambles and needed revision

    2 the Ombudsman caved in to pressure from the relatives and / or politicians and radically changed his conclusions.

    Either way on an issue of this sensitivity and importance, this is a dogs breakfast. He has lost all credibility. He should go

  • Cynic2

    “there also seem to have been some marked errors of fact about the victims which may have made the report non credible. ”

    I agree. Getting names etc wrong is unforgivable in the first place.

    But correcting that is very different from completely rewriting conclusions with no new evidence. So where is the real poor investigation and bias here? We need to see both reports side by side to understand this.

  • Brian

    They lied then and they are lying now in all likelihood. Just as they will continue to blame Bloody Sunday on a few reckless paratroopers (if not phantom Catholic gunmen) instead of the officers in charge of the preordained confrontational shoot first strategy, they will not admit they were going to blame the IRA regardless of all evidence and also ignore any signs of collusion.

    As long as a loyalist didn’t come forward and tell the press he was the bomber they were going to blame it on the IRA as they were desperate to discredit them as crazy fanatics and to damper their public support.

    What was that they say about ‘truth’ and ‘war’?

  • I’m running off to work (and more arguments with the police unfortunately) and I promise I’ll return to this later.

    In the meantime though I have uploaded the archives that we uncovered after extensive research and this is what was able to punch holes in the previous unpublished report which we only had hours to counter.

    I also draw your attention to page 46 of the published report as it features the minutes of a Joint Security Committee meeting which we targeted. Here we have the Chief Constable telling the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, the Minister of State for Home Affairs and the General Officer Commanding that two of our loved ones were known IRA terrorists, one of whom was a bomber. This he does without any evidence or substantiation.

    As it is difficult to visualize how words become weapons in black propaganda and psychological operations, I have prepared a breakdown of how the RUC injected their lie into the intelligence stream and into the media Read this in light of the archives and then judge the report. Anon.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    The mass murder at McGurk’s Bar was a terrible crime and if any evidence exists that would forward an investigation into those responsible for it it should be pursued.

    Setting aside the criminal investigation, and I believe the HET has this bombing on its books, there are other issues to ponder.

    It appears that the Police Ombudsman has responded to the victims’ families pressure and has significantly rewritten his report. The impression is left that PONI capitulated to the demands of the families who were unhappy with the outcome of the first report and allowed the findings of the second report to be dictated by the families. These circumstances will erode the credibility of PONI and all further reports will be tarnished.

    However there may be a positive outcome, although not for the ‘Victim’s Industry’. Given that victims are seemingly now empowered to have their personal ‘truth’ become the official record of incidents all ongoing historical processes can be set aside and scribes allocated to write up whatever version of history they prefer.

    BTW I wonder how Irish Republican CID, sometimes called the Pat Finucane Centre, is getting on with its investigation into the murder of the soldier and the wounding of two police officers at the McGurk’s Bar crime scene that so hampered the initial scene investigation? There is one, right?

  • A man from Mars might well think that Traditional Unionist Voice, the Pat Finucane Centre and British Irish Rights Watch were all singing from the same hymn sheet, were even a fine example of togetherness in the new Northern Ireland. I think the more likely explanation is that they have issues with Matt Baggott and Al Hutchinson.

    I agree with fjh that the truth should have been told to the families as soon as it became known; I disagree with his blanket observation that the past is the past.

    I should imagine the past is still the present for the families and friends of the victims; it will most probably will be the future too, not just for them but for thousands of others. Officialdom will continue to prevaricate and those with other issues will continue to rip the scabs from the wounds.

    I wouldn’t like to be a close family member of a victim. In some instances there will be little respite from the attentions of partisan ‘supporters’; in others, the victims will be left to suffer alone.

  • cushyglenn

    Frankly this report is a disaster for Al.
    How did he rush out something that was so wrong in the first place?

    Or how did he find the truth in a few short months which reverses some of his most significant intitial findings?

    Should the families really have to keep him on track?

    They also lose out because it is impossible not to at least momentarily speculate that their pressure forced the re-write, and unfairly diminish the unqualified vindication which they ought to have had.

    And it doesn’t say much for the HET either, if they have living suspects who -as far as we know- haven’t been questioned

    We can take or leave the families’ belief in collusion. I prefer to accept the “cock up” theory of history but the kernel of truth that we cannot ignore is that police officers were directing their energies in the wrong direction long after they ought to have known better. That doesn’t amount to collusion, but it certainly merits explanation

  • Cynic2

    “they lied then and they are lying now in all likelihood”

    Who lied? The police? the IRA? Al Hutchinson? the Families? The little green men in that spaceship in orbit who came all this way just to make trouble in Ireland?

  • Cynic2

    “discredited/sectarian force that was the RUC”

    depends upon your viewpoint does it. After all, it won the war and ground PIRA into capitulation. Hence we have peace and the joyous sight of SF as British ministers in a British Regional Assembly (aka County Council) .

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    Re. ‘cock-up’ – at the very minimum this looks like an attempt to pevert the course of justice by either the police or the army or both.

  • Cynic2

    “Frankly this report is a disaster for Al.”

    I agree completely. How can you retain any credibility by such a rewrite? In the absence of a full explanation it looks imply partisan.

    What’s David Ford going to do in the few weeks left to him?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    “After all, it won the war and ground PIRA into capitulation”

    If you win the war you dont get abolished (RUC)because you are an obstacle to peace – and if lose the war you dont tend to get into government(Provos).

    The truth of course is somewhere in between.

  • Neil

    But correcting that is very different from completely rewriting conclusions with no new evidence. So where is the real poor investigation and bias here? We need to see both reports side by side to understand this.

    There was new evidence, provided by the Pat Finucane centre and sourced from the British National Archive. The cynic in myself would suggest the initial report had the hallmarks of a shoddy piece of work and was created without full investigation. Hence the finucane centre doing the job of the ombudsman as he clearly wasn’t up to the task.

    It is an embarrasment for Al, and if it isn’t it very much should be.

  • Neil

    So where is the real poor investigation and bias here?

    As an addition, if you want to see the obvious bias take a look at the links provided by Cormac above:

    I’ll not paste it wholesale here but for instance, the first quote attributed to RUC Duty Officer’s report:

    Just before the explosion a man entered the licensed premises and left down a suitcase, presumably to be picked up by a known member of the Provisional I.R.A.

    There are about 20 examples of this, where the culprits are assumed to be the IRA by the Brits/RUC without any real foundation in fact, hence the RUC investigation was biased towards this being an IRA bomb/own goal.

  • Cynic2


    Do try and keep up.

    “f you win the war you dont get abolished (RUC) because you are an obstacle to peace”

    It wasn’t abolished. It was renamed and those who wanted to go were given payoffs for 3 years pay for good, faithful and successful service. Even now there are thousands of ex-RUC office in PSNI. And at the end of a long war (which I again point out it won) you don’t need as big an organisation so it had to downsize anyway. Didnt the same thing happen after the end of the Irish Civil war?

    “and if lose the war you dont tend to get into government(Provos)”

    Yes you do – if you are beguiled in there as part of a policy of normalization. Then you take your place in a British Regional Assembly and accept the Queen’s Shilling

  • Cynic2

    “There was new evidence, provided by the Pat Finucane centre and sourced from the British National Archive.”

    So the Ombudsman was changing the advice based on material provided by those lobbying. If true that’s very interesting for several reasons:

    1 why didn’t his team have it in the first place
    2 what steps did they take to fully investigate the new material and search of any other material that might expand on it, contradict it, or provide context or did they just take what they were given by a lobby group

    If what you say is true, then it does seem to me to raise even greater concerns at what has gone on here. Are you sure this is what happened? May I ask how you know?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    The RUC is an exForce, it is no more, it has gone to meet the big police force in the sky/down under (delete as appropriate), it has been abolished, replaced and gone the way of other discredited forces like the B Specials and the UDR.

    But hey, this is not what the thread is about and perhaps time to move on and as one of the sons of Python famoulsy said in relation to the unfortunate German chap trying to eat his lunch which is appropriately aimed in your direction You started it

    But as I said above in relation to the our own little recent war – the truth lies in between both our statments – uncomfortable as they may be for you.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot


    You make a number of important points. Partisan agitators like the Pat Finucane Centre are all about revisionism and are part of the wider Irish Republican project to portray a criminal terrorist campaign as a ‘war’.

    The fact that they damage their own position by complaining, inter alia, about police failures should not distract us. Can you just see a French Gendarme marching down a Normandy beach to investigate the Allied bombing on ‘D’ Day?

    The real tragedy in all this is that their political agenda does a massive disservice to the many bereaved who are taken advantage of by these cynical hyenas feasting on their pain.

    You are of course also correct about the RUC. Setting aside the Chief Constable the overwhelming majority of senior police officers (inspector and above) serving in the PSNI have an RUC pedigree. Many others who retired early are making a very nice living lecturing across the world on the systems they employed to defeat the Irish Republican, and Loyalist, terrorist onslaughts on society.

  • Neil

    If what you say is true, then it does seem to me to raise even greater concerns at what has gone on here. Are you sure this is what happened? May I ask how you know?

    Interview on Nolan this morning with one of the relatives of one of the victims. Sorry can’t be more sepcific about who it was, can’t remember. Will be around the 15 – 20 minute mark on today’s show.

    1 why didn’t his team have it in the first place

    Because they didn’t go to the national archive and trawl through thousands of documents. Which they should have done.

    2 what steps did they take to fully investigate the new material and search of any other material that might expand on it, contradict it, or provide context or did they just take what they were given by a lobby group

    Not really necessary – the documents provide the clear picture that from the outset the police believed this to be an IRA bomb, and that is where the bias supposedly lies.

    Finding evidence to contradict it would be unlikely as these were official police and army documents and hence give a clear picture of what they were thinking at the time.

    One way or the other the ‘bias’ referred to is clear from the 20 or so quotes pulled from official police and army docs within the days following the bomb. The police/army thought it was the IRA, they didn’t give due consideration to the possibility it wasn’t the IRA, they just assumed. Hence they were biased towards finding the IRA responsible as that was the conclusion they jumped to straight away.

    The real story is based, IMHO, around Al’s first report and how he can square off his job requirements with getting the victim’s names wrong, and not actually doing the legwork to find these documents.

    On the flipside I suppose Al’s got his fingers in several pies whereas the Finucane centre has more time to dedicate to reading through declassified documents.

  • Cynic2


    I agree with almost all that you say except the bit ” Not really necessary” …. in my view after a cock up like this its always necessary to check, and recheck.

    I would want to know, for example, where did the information in the records come from? Is there a record of that? And track back through it all.

    Without that thorough investigation the Ombudsman’s office does a dis-service to everyone

  • Cynic2


    “The RUC is an exForce, it is no more, etc …….”

    Keep trying. But I am delighted that so many of them are now having a well earned retirement after their successful careers in defeating terrorism and that PSNI these days dont have to face the same level of threat.

  • I can see how a police officer could have jumped to an erroneous conclusion. He should have waited until the circumstances became clearer but it’s easy to say that in hindsight. Less than two weeks earlier a young IRA member died ‘in premature bomb explosion at Cellar Lounge Bar, Church Place, Lurgan’. [CAIN]

    I can also see how the media could have run with that story and how politicians and members of the intelligence services could have used it to their own ends. I have noted in other settings how reluctant officialdom is to correct an account even when just about everyone else accepts an opposite or an alternative explanation.

    The IRA mainly targeted security personnel and civilians; the UVF and UDA, mainly civilians. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harold Wilson’s words – spoken between the two pub explosions – added further fuel to the flames and put additional Catholic lives at risk:

    “[Wilson] proposed that Britain should work towards a withdraw from Northern Ireland, with the consent of Protestants, after a period of 15 years.” [CAIN]

  • joeCanuck

    Excellent piece, Turgon.
    Maybe this will finally put and end to the occasional lie that you only condemn republican murderers.

  • Niall

    Page 1, Column 6, New York Times, Sun 5 Dec, 1971:
    “At least 13 persons are killed and others are wounded in explosion in Belfast pub frequented by Catholics; British army officer and 2 policemen are wounded in shooting and rioting that erupts after incident; Catholics are convinced bombing is work of Protestant extremists but some police say similar attack on bar frequented by Catholics was linked to Catholic guerrilla fighter; says current blast to be case of IRA provocation of Catholics.”

  • Niall

    No apology from the Chief Constable, wonder will John Taylor ever say sorry, after all the implication was that some of the victims were IRA members and intent on murdering others.

    Page 8, News, Belfast Telegraph, Tue 22 Feb 2011
    “John Taylor last night refused to apologise for declaring the bombing of McGurk’s bar was an IRA “own goal”. The veteran Ulster Unionist peer said that as a minister, he stuck to the advice given by officials…”

    Page 4, News, Belfast Telegraph, Fri 9 July 2010
    “I didn’t just make up my own opinions. It is almost 40 years ago and I am not going to disagree now with the advice given to me in good faith by officials.”

    Page 16, News, Sunday Life, Sun 27 July 2008
    “John Taylor… says he will make a statement to try to ease the hurt felt by victims’ families when the Police Ombudsman’s report on the 1971 attack by loyalist terrorists is released.”

    Still waiting on that on then.

    Page 18, Opinion, The Irish Times, Sat 22 December 2007
    Taylor said at the time “This was an IRA own goal”; McGurk’s was a bomb factory.” The story further relates that “John Taylor said forensic evidence supported this theory, and that loyalists were too “mature” to carry out such an attack.

  • Niall

    How was collusion not found to be established; in fact in light of other cases, it would not be unreasonable to have a reverse burden of proof; there was collusion until can be shown otherwise.

    Couple of examples:
    1968 trial of UVF member Samuel Stevenson. Although he testified against 5 fellow accused UVF members, they were all acquitted. Then he is sentenced, sent to an open prison in England before being given a resettlement grant to move to Australia.

    1972 trial of UDA member Charles Harding Smith and five others for possessing and handling a stockpile of weapons. All were acquitted. Anything to do with the fact that a letter from the assistant chief constable of the RUC was read at the trial stating that on many occasions Smith had been a pacifier between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast.
    How about UDA member Albert Walker Baker giving details of RUC/ UDA collusion; admitting driving the car containing a bomb part of the way to Dublin in 1972.
    The list goes on and on and on: Dublin/Monaghan bombings, Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, James Marks and Joseph Toland, the Miami Showband massacre… the list is endless.
    Surely, someone, ombudsman or justice, must eventually find that some sort of collusion went on, even to say, that a reasonable conclusion that collusion took place could be drawn, even if not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Its just ridiculous at this stage, everyone knows it went on, is it not about time that it’s admitted, apologies offered and everyone can move on.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    re. “Keep trying”

    The fact that many from the RUC are now in the PSNI was part of the political solution – just as most of those in jail didnt serve their time – their were political compromises to be made all round and I would not suggest for a moment that were not many good people making up the RUC’s ranks – but it simply was not fit for purpose given its development within the Orange state.

    Apart from the fact that the Provos would never had agreed a ceasfire unless the RUC went – one can only imagine how the issues sorrounding this report would have played out amongst Republicans/Nationlists if the RUC were still in place.

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    Oh dear the collusion smear is not going well. Desperation has set in and now it’s to be forget about the evidence and prove you’re innocent.

    Like it! Let’s start with the Nationalist community’s collusion with the Sinn Féin murder machine. We’ll begin with those with names beginning with ‘A’. We might need some mighty big prisons given election results since ’81. Then we can move on.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    A few clarifications regarding what you have said above (reprinted below)

    Are you suggesting that the Chief Constable should not inform the relevant people of the background of some people killed/injured in the explosion?

    Or are you suggesting that he simply made that up or that his belief was wrong, or that he had insufficent information to reach his conclusion?

    In any enquiry surely the backrground of those caught in the exposion is relevant as it often the case that bombs do explode prematurely?

    Obviously if it is clear that at the point the Chief Constable made those remarks he knew those caught in the blast didnt carry out the attack then the remarks should be viewed as an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

    “Here we have the Chief Constable telling the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, the Minister of State for Home Affairs and the General Officer Commanding that two of our loved ones were known IRA terrorists, one of whom was a bomber. This he does without any evidence or substantiation. “

  • Cynic2

    But Sammy by the time those matters were played out PIRA had been ground (almost) to a halt, riven by informers. Yes it could carry on smuggling and rob the odd bank (which Gerry insists it didnt do) but that was about it. It was held in reserve to give the appearance of an ace up the sleeve.

    SF regarded themselves as clever poker players with the dummy ace. But they were play with the Brits who were in for the long game and ready to lose on that hand but clean up later. As they did.

    So all the awful ex RUC men walked off into new careers with 3 years pay plus an immediate pension. The volunteers were looked after with regular work guarding the intelligentsia of SF commuting to their offices in the hated Stormont or working on building sites.

    Now what does that tell you about who won the war?

  • ThomasMourne

    It bothers me that Sinn Fein members want to make political capital out of the suffering of the relatives of the 15 McGurk victims, although it is not surprising.

    In the week before this atrocity the IRA caused the deaths of 5 people [3 civilians] and in the week after they killed another 10 people [5 civilians, including 2 babies] according to CAIN.

    The balancing of these figures in no way justifies a single killing, but it should cause SF supporters to think again about voting for these hoodlums at the next election.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    I think we have taken this little discousre far enough into the sidings and I dont really have anything to add.

    In relation to the substantive issue hopefully Al’s work in the part of the world is now at an end.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally,

    This document (Joint Security Committee minutes, 16.12.71) proved categorically that the RUC briefed government with totally false information. It’s perverting the course of justice in any man’s books but to prove collusion (which I would not have objectified as it has no definition in law) you have to prove the deliberate act. PONI have inferred from this gamut of evidence that there was “insuffiecient evidence” (not “no”) to prove collusion. From the Duty Officers up to the Chief Constable throughout all these records, they have just been guilty of bias. We have to find a policy document that literally states “we are going to say that… because” or a similar document that has Shillington saying “we know two of the victims had nothing to do with it but here’s what we are going to say…”. I hasten to add I have a section 24 (national security) bar put on me from accessing an information policy document from the Information Research Department and dated the 7th December 1971. So I might just have a policy document yet so watch this space.

    In answer to your other questions: there was no substance to the criminalization of the innocent victims. If there had’ve been a whiff of illegality about any of them, we can all imagine that they would’ve been fingered immediately. The lie is so stark simply because of their innocence. Remember too that the black propaganda would’ve sat better with the bombing of the original target. I contend that the black propaganda was prepared for the Gem Bar and then rolled out for McGurk’s instead.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    thanks for your reply, in what are obviously very difficult circumstances for yourself.

    Leaving the collusion issue aide for the moment, presuambly in order to prove there was an attempt to pervert the course of justice, you need to have evidence that at the time the Chief Constable, offered what is clearly incorrect information(that those caught in the bomb had previous) he actually knew that others were responsible?

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Excellent piece, Turgon.
    Maybe this will finally put and end to the occasional lie that you only condemn republican murderers.”

    I don’t know that anyone has ever claimed that (he’s already on record re the yabba dabba do, any Taig will do crowd). Some do, however, claim something else. You see, in Turgon’s world, they must go after the PIRA and the UVF, but Her Majesty’s troops not only to do not get prosecuted, they also get to hide behind a letter for a name. Why I asked Turgon on that other thread why he isn’t the chair of the Criminal Prosecutions For Bloody Sunday Murderers campaign. So the ordinary folk have no right to kill but the state can kill with impunity. Seems to be his position. He isn’t otherwise alone in that respect.

    Almost forgot, but this notion is singularly inappropriate:

    Matt Baggott now needs to name those deceased whom the police think committed this loathsome sectarian murder

    Being dead, they can hardly defend themselves, but perhaps that can be left to their grandkids when they get bullied in the schoolyard owing to the revelation.

  • Turgon

    It has been frequently claimed that I do not condemn loyalist murders: it is of course a lie. However, you are also telling bare faced lies you about me. I have called for prosecutions of those members of the security forces for whom that is potentially appropriate.

    Here is a direct quote from my blog about the Saville enquiry:

    The question arises should the story be left at that? Some of the families want prosecutions, some do not. Currently all the soldiers are innocent, they having been convicted of nothing. However, we rightly demand that attempts are made to bring the murderers of the past to justice. Rightly we are pleased that someone is on trial for the 1981 murder of Jennifer Cardy. As such if crimes were committed on Bloody Sunday then they should be assessed. The correct place to assess such and come to an appropriate conclusion is a court of law. Saville was not a court of law and cannot call anyone a murderer. However, if there is evidence against anyone, be they soldiers or civilians then that evidence should be assessed by the DPP and if appropriate tested in court at the trial of those accused. If found guilty those guilty should be punished, if acquitted then they leave the court room innocent. Justice must be equal for all. That may mean prosecutions but we must demonstrate that in our society if the forces of law and order make a grave enough mistake they will, if found guilty, be punished: yet again a contrast to Adams and McGuinness’s rag tag band of butchers who when they killed the wrong person issued a half apology and that supposedly made it all alright.

    The Bloody Sunday families have suffered greatly. Gregory Campbell has rightly said he has compassion for them. However, compassion is not enough. We as unionists may find their campaign over the years irritating; we may feel that their case has been highlighted more than many others. We may not always like those who supported them; we may not like the company the victims’ families kept. We may feel that whilst demanding justice for their loved ones they were willing to be seen with those who had committed countless murders and had never faced justice. However, unionists must realise that what happened that day was wrong, those who died were innocent and if there are people to be prosecuted then sadly but grimly and determinedly we must support the rule of law and the fair trial and if appropriate punishment of the guilty. That is why we were, are and will always be morally better than the gunmen and bombers. It is when it is difficult and painful to support it that the light of truth and justice needs tended most.

    So maybe retract your lie about me and apologise for lying.

    As to naming the potential deceased murderers that is now fairly standard practice in the UK: it has been done about Father Cheasney but also about the murder of the young woman in Lancashire which I linked to and on a number of other occasions.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally,

    Interstingly, I may just be breaking a little potential piece of evidence tomorrow… I’ll re-post if it hits (Irish News).

  • Cynic2


    I suspect from our posts that we will differ on many things but, if its any consolation to you, I was about 12 when this happened and, as a Unionist, throughout my whole life I have to say that I never ever recall meeting anyone who thought that it was an own goal by PIRA. Everyone ‘knew’ it was sectarian.

    As for the issue of innocence, I really don’t care if any of the victims had/had not done anything at all in the past. Its irrelevant. They were murdered, plain and simple.

  • Turgon

    I would just like to second Cynic2’s comment. I always understood it was the UVF who murdered the people at McGurk’s Bar. The political positions of those killed are of no relevance. Even if hypothetically any had been in the IRA (I have no evidence to believe they were and do not do so) they would still be innocent as they were doing nothing at all wrong at the time. Even had they been planning a terrorist crime (doubly impossibly unlikely) they would still not have deserved to be killed. The UVF were a pack of sectarian terrorist murderers and had no right to kill anyone at all.

    Personally I would like to see some more of the murderers caught for this sectarian mass murder but your relatives and friends were completely innocent and although I have never doubted it you have the absolute right to proclaim that as loudly as you wish.

  • “a little potential piece of evidence tomorrow”

    Ciarán, it’s a shame generally that it’s been so difficult for families and friends of victims to get information, especially if that information has been recorded and there are folks who know where it is.

    It seems to me that the Police Ombudsman could have had a round table discussion with a few representatives from each of the main parties involved before drafting his conclusions and publishing the first report. His approach has produced a shambles.

  • Cynic2 and Turgon,

    It’s all fair and well that some people (definitely not all – intelligence will always be a marker) knew that it was a sectarian attack. Unfortunately, it was never investigated as such even after Mr. Campbell admitted to it. That was what the Ombudsman was ruling on.

    Incidentally, I do not think it was planned as a simple sectarian attack to terrorize the population. It’s original target was an alleged Official IRA bar and the attack was designed to stir up a little bit of communal strife between the republican wings. Hence why I say that the black propaganda would have been very successful in saying “provo bomb”. Was this black propaganda prepared beforehand specifically for the Gem bar and then rolled out for McGurk’s? There’s no evidence for that but this is where my research will be directed thenceforth (I have several complaints against the MoD withholding targeted requests from me and they have slapped half a dozen section 24s – national security – bars on me on other docs). The inter-branch and inter-governmental complicity in propogating the lie may hint at at a much bigger plot that we will yet prove. I would assume that this is where Mr. Baggot has got a little bit peeved as the police are taken the rap at a time of military primacy and sectarian government.

    Now back to the wee piece of evidence, Nevin. Look at page 22 of the PONI report. We had always wondered where the bombers car disappeared to after it was dumped 300 yards away (A1 Taxis today). PONI have admitted that they have discovered an RUC document buried (and buried was their word) in archives that state that “the car involved in the Gt. George Street bombing” had been examined/dusted. All archives to do with this examination and, indeed, the car itself have… you guessed it… disappeared. This obviously dovetails neatly with our archive finds and underscores a more sinister element to “investigative bias”. There will be more to follow on this in the coming months.

    Cynic2, I agree with what you say about the relativity of innocence but exculpation is of especial importance to those who have been criminalized. Mr. Christy Walsh could back me up on that I’m sure.

  • Ciarán, I can find no ‘buried’ in the PONI report [at least this pdf report is searchable unlike another ‘independent’ investigation that I made user friendly]. Did PONI produce this admission before or after the final report was published?

    I’m often criticised for failing to produce ‘evidence’ on Slugger but sometimes when I refer to patterns of behaviour others add evidence on the comments thread, evidence that hadn’t previously been available.

    I’d caution against premature attribution of motive and too much partisan invective. Often the evidence will speak for itself and it’s crucial not to stem the flow; you’ll probably need all the pieces of the jig-saw that can be found – and more.

  • Nevin,

    The first time we discovered the existence of an RUC archive detailing the examination of the car was when we browsed the report. It wasn’t drawn to our attention and we were only able to query it minutes before the release to the public. We asked its genesis etc and were told by the director that it had been buried in archives – no documents reference it and no documents follow it. There will be discourse over the following weeks whether the document will be released to us (redacted of course).

    And you are completely correct about inference of motive. We know though that the Gem bar was the original target. Subsequent archives (the 2RRF leaflet drop 23.12.71 is the most obvious example) and the speeches of ministers lend weight to a divide and conquer strategy. One was divide and conquer paramilitaries (not realised due to the change of target), the other a classic pollution of the waters that feed the rebellion. Would such a policy document be found though? I had discovered a diary entry by Bernard Renouf Johnston (GSO1 of the Information Policy Unit and lecturer in psyops at Old Sarum) that stated he was spending the 11th January 1972 preparing a case-study on the attempt to confuse responsibility for the McGurk’s Bar bombing. Whether he was talking about republican or British army attempts could then be argued by a devil’s advocate. Cost limitations of £600 meant the MoD could close this request for information down. But, yes, you are right.

    If you are talking about an inference of Mr. Baggott’s motives, well I’ll be able to ask him directly soon.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    True to form, what has been reflected here on Slugger is that most Unionists opt for cock up and most Nationalists/Republicans opt for conspiracy.

    Are you of the opinion, that there currently is firm evidence that would stand up in court, of an attempt by either the military or the RUC to pervert the course of justice – even if this evidence dose not point to one or more specific individuals?

  • Ciarán, how long did you have to look at the report before it was published? I think some of the difficulties surrounding the PONI approach could be resolved by the round-table suggestion I made earlier. There’s unlikely to be complete agreement but the recent charade IMO has seriously damaged PONI.

    I’ve seen ‘divide and conquer’/’speaking out of both sides of the mouth’ tactics used in other settings. I suppose the concept is as old as the hills.

    The Chief Constable is likely to be well out of his depth in this affair. It all happened a long time ago and there are so many local nuances to get a grasp of. I think there’s a risk that he could end up arguing that a black crow is white, depending on his personality. A ding-dong IMO doesn’t elicit the information you seek; you need to be able to assist each other.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    ” I think there’s a risk that he could end up arguing that a black crow is white, depending on his personality.”

    I dont really think the Chief Constable should be dealing in opinions – he should be looking at the evidence as to whether the RUC followed the correct procedures and stayed within the law.

  • Nevin,

    Family and NGO reps had an overview before being the full report the day before but we will still have questions when the dust settles as there wasn’t complete agreement indeed. Again, you are completely correct about engagement and I think Mr. Hutchinson would now agree with that too. We were very conscious in July (I wrote about it here and/or on the website) that a revised report – which evidence demanded – would have a negative effect on our campaign too. Our arguments today are the same as they were the day we were handed the July report although particular targeted archives have been submitted since then. PONI will have to answer for their own review of the evidence but I think that they would have been more damaged if they had not had the professionalism to admit abject error. On the positive side – and I can tell you that their managerial style has changed dramatically – future complaints will be handled with much more expertise.

    We will follow the same approach with Mr. Baggott, no doubt as you have already gathered from our interviews with the press. So we would agree with you again in that engagement (and education) is always the way forward. Even though a Chief Constable has politicized this again (the irony has not been lost on us), I personally do not think that his office or confidence in his office would be in a better position if he does not correct it himself. We will see whether he has the professionalism of PONI to admit to a very human propensity – gross error.

    And yes divide and conquer is as old as conflict itself.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    Whatever people may think about Mr Baggott I suspect he was picked for the job becuase of two prominent ,firstly his ability to avoid putting his foot in it and secondly his ability to steer the ‘correct’ political path.

    I suspect, therefore(and hopefully I am wrong) that Mr Baggot’s statements have not in fact been made in ‘error’ – in the accidental sense.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally,

    Most family campaigners on all sides will attest that they become a little single-minded but not necessarily one-sided. I hope that I am little more thoughtful than your tribal synopsis although I have very definite opinions in this instance (I would surprise you in others I think).

    We would have been very lucky if the RUC had’ve even admitted “a cock-up”. I wouldn’t have the time to detail every instance that I think negligence or bias overspills into perverting the course of justice in the RUC’s handling of McGurk’s (read the site). Nevertheless, could you explain how a piece of RUC black propaganda (bomb-in-transit, criminalization of innocent civilians blah blah) inserted without substance or substantiation can become the basis of a so-called investigation into mass murder and a Chief Constable’s briefing to Government? Could you explain this against witness statements, corroborated intelligence from a sister police force, evidence from a security source that admitted that it was known that it was a UVF bomb and now. potentially, the examination of the car used by the bombers (since disappeared)? Surely you would give the RUC more credence than that as no amount of stupidity could result in such a cock-up. PONI could not explain it either although they sought to call it an investigative bias against the balance of evidence.

    As for Mr. Baggot, he himself should read the evidence now before him (three press releases = lack of preparation). It would not be a good metaphor to use for a police force in the north if I said he shot from the hip. Then he should be more concerned about the statutory bodies that have been set up to make sure the police are held accountable – he will have his own answers to make to PONI and the policing board.

  • Sammy, as Ciarán has noted, there are different managerial styles and an ill thought out approach can simply get some people’s backs up. Perhaps it shouldn’t matter but, in practice, it does. Sometimes I’ve got confirmation of information through an informal approach that I wouldn’t have got otherwise. It would be nice to have it in writing but that isn’t always possible. However, the confirmation might be a stepping stone to something else.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt (profile)

    “Most family campaigners on all sides will attest that they become a little single-minded but not necessarily one-sided. I hope that I am little more thoughtful than your tribal synopsis although I have very definite opinions in this instance (I would surprise you in others I think).”

    I agree with that – my observation related to those here on Slugger (including myself) and not directly involved with the Report/campaign.

    In relation to preverting the course of justice, it seems to me incomrehensible that arguably the single most important piece of evidence in the investigation – who had carried it out – could have been misconstrued/changed/falsified by the RUC.

    But, there is some distance from incomprehesnion to proof that the police preverted the course of justice and I was asking you if there was evidence that would stand up in court to support such a charge.

    Presumably, if such evidence exists, there may be an option for the families to present this information to the Attorney General / Justice Minister with a view to prosecution?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally,

    I wish I was allowed to handle the police files to judge that but unfortunately I have to rely on two British organisations (PONI and HET) to judge those issues for us. I don’t think anybody will be getting an international, independent inquiry with powers of subpoena any time soon. But yes, legal options will definitely be considered once we have exhausted these.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    “I wish I was allowed to handle the police files to judge that but unfortunately I have to rely on two British organisations (PONI and HET) to judge those issues for us. ”

    The work of PONI is now complete is it not?

    In relation to HET, what stage of enquiry are they at?.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    Presumably the (political) intervention by Mr Baggot should allow some intervention by the Justice Minister, has he made a statement?

  • slappymcgroundout


    “yet again a contrast to Adams and McGuinness’s rag tag band of butchers who when they killed the wrong person issued a half apology and that supposedly made it all alright.”

    Forgive me, but I should have said that I question your sincerity, and not you simply making the claim. Those who shot some on Bloody Sunday didn’t “kill the wrong person”. It was other than that. This was no, we fouled the warning, the bomb exploded prematurely, and/or we mistook the soul for someone else. Bloody Sunday was: Wray was hit twice, the second time from close range while he was lying face down on the ground.

    They did the same at Loughgall. I don’t have a problem with not arresting some beforehand, nor for returning fire and shooting to kill. But if they felt safe enough to emerge from cover and approach the van, surely there was no reason to administer the proverbial coup de grace, right?

    Next, for the rag tag band of murderers that you continuously fail to describe as such:

    Noel Phillips was shot in the back side. An injury that was later described in his autopsy as a flesh wound. As he lay crying for help, Joan Connolly, a mother of 8 went to his aid. Eye witnesses heard Joan call out to Noel saying “It’s alright son, I’m coming to you”.

    In her attempt to aid Noel, Joan was shot in the face. When the gun fire stopped Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Joseph Murphy and many others lay wounded. Daniel Teggart, a father of 14, lay dead having been shot 14 times.

    A short time later a British Army vehicle left the Henry Taggart Army base and entered the field. A solider exited the vehicle, and to the dismay of the local eye witnesses, executed the already wounded Noel Phillips by shooting him once behind each ear with a hand gun.
    Joan Connolly, aged 45 was married with eight children and lived at Ballymurphy road. On the 9th of August 1971 when internment without trial was introduced she had been out searching for two of her daughters as there was rising tension in the area, when she stopped to talk to a group of neighbours. As they stood there the British Army Parachute regiment opened fire from the nearby Henry Taggart Army Base. They all ran into a field directly opposite to the army base. On hearing the cries from a young lad Noel Phillips, Joan made her way towards him. While attending to Noel Phillips she was shot and was heard to scream “I’m blind, I can’t see”. Joan Connolly lay in the field for some time receiving several other serious gunshot wounds and died some hours later.
    Then there was Joan Connolly. One of the soldiers went round the side of the house and claimed later that he found a woman who was obviously dead. It was later found out that she hadn’t been shot once, but four times – in the belly, in the shoulder and the thigh, as well as in the face.
    Friar Hugh Mullen then phoned the army and told them there was a wounded man on the field and asked their soldiers to stop shooting. He then left the house and, waving a white cloth, went out onto the field to issue the last rites to Bobby. Bobby said he wasn’t dying, so Friar Mullen went back towards his house to phone the ambulance, still waving the white cloth. That was when he was shot.

    So, the Paras in NI, a rag tag band of murderers. And so you and the rest of morally challenged get the related point, Joan Connolly is the other Joan that few seem to remember. Perhaps that’s because she can’t be used by some as a stick to bash their political rivals with.

    Now for more on rag tag murder:

    Thirty-one years ago today a 14-year-old school girl, Annette McGavigan, was shot dead on the streets of Derry by a British soldier. No one was ever charged with her death and no proper investigation was ever carried out.
    One civilian witness, the first person to reach Annette after she was shot, told [the] inquest into her death: “On Monday the 6th of September, 1971 at approximately 6.00pm I was in my home watching television when I heard a fairly loud explosion. I immediately went out to my front door…there were about 30 youngsters, mainly girls, running down Eglinton Place from the Little Diamond direction.

    “Still looking in the direction of Little Diamond I saw two soldiers on the waste ground at the old post office. They were running across the waste ground away from Eglinton Place. Both soldiers were carrying guns. The next thing I saw was both soldiers stop and turn facing Eglinton Place. One of them dropped down onto one knee. This soldier appeared to be bringing his rifle up to the firing position.

    “Instinctively I pulled my head in from the corner as the soldier was aiming his rifle down Eglinton Place and I thought he was preparing to fire. About a second later there were the reports of about two or three shots. I didn’t see anyone fire the shots but I took it for granted they were from the post office.’

    The witness added: “I then saw the last one of the girls who had been running down Eglinton Place fall forward onto her face. She fell at the corner of my front garden and was lying on the footpath…a few seconds later I ran over to where she fell. I was the first person to reach her. I spoke into her ear but there was no response. I then noticed a trickle of blood run from the back of her head.”

    Now, the “apology” of the rag tag band of murderers:

    The British army immediately released a statement alleging that they had been involved in a gun battle with republicans, and that they had actually hit a gunman in Eglinton Place.

    They claimed they had come under fire from a gunman who fired at least nine shots, and that they had returned fire twice.

    They continued: “In neither case was there anyone else in the line of fire. In the first case the gunman who had fired at the soldiers was seen to be hit. There were no casualties among the security forces.”

    The truth? The good doctor:

    One of the civilian witnesses, Dr. MacDermott, told the inquest that he heard a total of five shots being fired. Soldier C claims that ten shots were fired at the soldiers, and that they returned five shots.

    So, while the PIRA later admitted to throwing two nail bombs but denied firing, we can be relatively certain that such is true, since Solder C admits to him and his mates returning 5 shots, which presumably were the five shots that Dr. MacDermott heard. And at best, some in the BA have piss poor eyesight if the young Annette McGavigan in her school uniform was mistaken for a gunman while she was running away.

    Lastly, since you appear to have missed the point last time:

    BA: Total killed 297

    CIV – 149
    IRA – 96
    IRAF – 12
    OIRA – 9
    BA – 9
    UDA – 7
    UVF – 6
    INLA – 5
    RUC – 2
    OIRAF – 2
    CIV PA – 1
    UDR – 1
    IPLO – 1

    PIRA: Total killed 1,711

    CIV – 496
    BA – 456
    RUC – 271
    UDR – 183
    IRA – 133
    xUDR – 38
    UDA – 26
    PO – 20
    CIV PA – 17
    xRUC – 14
    UVF – 12
    RIR – 7
    BP – 6
    GS – 6
    TA – 5
    xBA – 5
    RAF – 4
    OIRA – 4
    xPO – 2
    xIRA – 2
    RN – 1
    IA – 1
    IPLOBB – 1
    IRAF – 1

    You want to run the proportion, security forces dead versus civilian dead?


    CIV/CIV PA: 149 + 1 = 150 (of 297, so more than half)(50.505%)

    Paramilitary + Allied Orgs (youth wings): 96 IRA + 12 IRAF + 9 OIRA + 2 OIRAF + 5 INLA + 1 IPLO = 125 (Repub paras and allied org) + 7 UDA + 6 UVF = 13 (Loyalist paras) = 138 Paras and allied orgs, or 46.46% of their total kills.

    The rest are own goals.


    CIV/CIV PA: 496 + 17 = 513 (of 1,711), or 29.982%.

    Security Services: 456 BA + 271 RUC + 183 UDR + 20 PO + 7 RIR + 6 BP + 5 TA + 4 RAF + 1 RN = 953 (of 1,711, so more than half), or 55.698%.

    133 IRA + 1 IRAF + 2 xIRA = 136 own goals

    6 Gardai + 1 Irish Army = 7 security service personnel from the ROI.

    And if you wish to consider xBA, xRUC, xUDR, xPO as CIV that would be 38 xUDR + 14 xRUC + 5 xBA + 2 xPO = 59 + 513 = 572/1711 = 33.43%, so more or less a third of PIRA killed.

    So who were the rag tag band of murderers? At least they apologized, and didn’t claim that Annette McGavigan wasn’t in the line for fire, and never mind apparently, the rifle shot wound to the back of her head and her dead body. And you call for their prosecution because you know that it won’t ever happen. Because unlike some others, they aren’t a rag tag band of murderers, at least according to you. And that’s my considered opinion and I’m sticking with it.

    Almost forgot, but the numbers for the BA look even worse when you consider that they didn’t do much bombing, so hard for them to botch that kind of operation and thereby inadvertently add to the non-intended civilian dead.

    For one more, if I had been there at the time, can’t say that I would have ever joined up with the PIRA, the INLA, whoever, but I can say that I would have been at war with those who killed Annette McGavigan and also left Joan Connolly out there in the field, blinded, to die a slow, agonizing death. And so you get the other related point, vindication of the dead of Bloody Sunday is one thing, while one’s government owning up to the fact that its Paras murdered with impunity wherever they went, AND SO WHY WERE THEY THERE, is a whole other matter, and that hasn’t even begun to be honestly addressed. In fact, Saville does its best to shovel the shit downhill on the troops while leaving their superiors in the clear. In that precise sense, call Saville, Whitewash Part Deux. And so to end with your one other line, with appropriate addition: That is why we (never) were, are (pretend to be now) and will always be (nay, never will be) morally better. And by the way, this line gave you away, re Mr. Insincerity himself: Gregory Campbell has rightly said he has compassion for them. Yeah, sure he does. He’s the miscreant who is on record as saying that some made war owing to lack of central heating and indoor toilets. The mere fact that you cited to the notorious bigot as having “compassion” for the objects of his bigotry speaks volumes. In other words, I judge you to be as sincere as he is, which is nil, and so while I will correct my statement, the amended statement re your sincerity stands.

    Sorry, for one more, from your piece a whlie back on collusion:

    If any linen is to be washed in public then the scarcely soiled linen of any relationship between the forces of the state and loyalists must be set beside that of the foul and putrid linen of assorted other organisations and republican terrorists.

    Query, who was there for the PIRA to collude with? Leaving the late Horseman to write:

    Yes I know of Turgon, of course. He is one of the reasons I no longer actively frequent Slugger, though I read his stuff (including the recent scurrilous nonsense about collusion. He is away with the fairies, as we say).

    And if you can’t discern what the late Horsemen meant, the idea is simple, your glorious heroes, Her Majesty’s govt and its armed forces, were supposed to be neutrals, neutrally enforcing the law, except some are saying that they weren’t such and that they went well beyond the law. And go back and read your post in June 2010 on collusion part 2. That’s the post that makes your lack of sincerity plain. And makes Mick’s claim re whataboutery entirely null and void, since ever there was an illustration of whataboutery, your 1 JJune 2010 post is that animal. And, sorry, but I’d hardly call this “scarcely soiled”:

  • vanhelsing

    PIRA: Total killed 1,711[don’t you mean murdered?]


  • joeCanuck


    Maybe repost tomorrow with soberly thought.

  • Kevin Barry


    Completely off topic, but just out of curiosity, did you post on Vincent Browne’s piece in the Irish Times today?

  • joeCanuck

    No Kevin. If I post anywhere, I use my full name, Joe Harron. That name used to appear in my e-ail address on Slugger before the recent changes. I used to get occasional e-mails, always respectful, asking for elaboration of my views.

  • ItwasSammyMcNall,

    PONI complete, yes, save for a couple of questions. HET to come now (their original report has gone through change due to proper engagement with families and the evidence they provide). We’ll be dealing with the HET now.
    Interestingly, I don’t know if Mr. Ford has made a statement but I’ve been looking out for his specifically.

  • “Her Majesty’s govt and its armed forces, were supposed to be neutrals, neutrally enforcing the law, except some are saying that they weren’t such and that they went well beyond the law.”

    Slappy, there was serious bedlam in various parts of Northern Ireland. The intended socialist ‘revolution’, under the pretext of civil rights, had dropped into the familiar tramlines of our tribal history. Stormont had been left with a military as well as a policing role in the 1920s. Police resources had been run down after the ’56-’62 IRA campaign (much as is happening at present). Dublin did a runner to protect its own institutions and London was in an ill-informed muddle. The likes of Hume and Paisley had stirred up half-buried passions, traditional stone-throwing had moved on to traditional shooting and bombing, local people had formed groups to protect their own communities but these groups had moved on from defence to attack. Folks in McGurks Bar, as far as I can see, were having a night out but they sadly ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Turgon

    You claimed that I had not called for the prosecution of members of the security forces where they had potentially committed crimes. That was a lie and I pointed to the fact that you were lying. I provided evidence of a blog calling for exactly what you claimed I had not called for.

    Now having been called on the lie you question the sincerity of the comments I made made before you rasied the lie itself.

    So you are now lying about me at two different levels: claiming I have not called for prosecutions when I have done and now claiming that I was lying when I called for prosecutions.

    Since you have clearly studied my posts to find attempts to attack me it is interesting that you then simply tell lies about me.

    Your (admittedly utterly ineffecual) attacks on me are now degenerating into man playing with a prolonged and irrelevant attack on other posts I have made.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Ciarán MacAirt,

    re “PONI complete, yes, save for a couple of questions. HET to come now (their original report has gone through change due to proper engagement with families and the evidence they provide). We’ll be dealing with the HET now.”

    Did the HET not initially liase with the family as a potential likely source of information?

    Regarding Justice Minister, surely he would respond to a letter? Does access to the Atorney General have to be via the Assembly? Presumably as the Chief Public Proscecutor, is he obliged to wait until the end of the HET?

    Any time timescale for the HET enquiry?

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Maybe repost tomorrow with soberly thought.”

    Sorry, Joe, but I haven’t touched ethanol or any related substance in more than two decades. I also tend to reply with something more than your prototypical one-liners. I’ll allow you to discern for yourself which indicates a deeper thought process.

    Nevin: I don’t blame the responsible authority for McGurk’s. Whether they might have, after the fact, attempted to use or in fact used the event for their own purposes is open to question.

    VH: I don’t call US KIA in WWII “murdered”. Nor do I call BA dead in our Revolutionary War “murdered” either. Consider Loughgall again. Those killed while the battle was underway are simply KIA. Those executed while lying wounded and defenseless, and presenting no threat whatsoever, when the battle was over, were murdered.

    Turgon: re your posts, this one and the others, sorry, but they form a pattern. The pattern where you claim the moral high ground and relegate some/most others to the nether regions. And I don’t “study” your posts. I read your one post when you posted it and was thorougly disgusted by it. I was more disgusted by your first piece, part 1, which I didn’t note.

    To now get to the proverbial meat of the matter, with your further report in another piece on loyalist decommissioning:

    When they announced their ceasefire Gusty Spence (murderer of Peter Ward) said “In all sincerity, we offer to the loved ones of all innocent victims over the past 25 years abject and true remorse.” Indeed Spence asked Mr. Ward’s mother for forgiveness and she appears to have given that. Such an act from Mrs. Ward is deeply laudable: infinitely more so than Spence’s request; what we need to focus on is the fact that he had committed a crime at all. Even taking Spence and co’s apology at face value, it is, however, utterly half hearted…

    So, am I to take it that only you get to claim that some are insincere and/or half-hearted? So to borrow from Sgt Hulka n the film Stripes, lighten up Francis.

    And you really need to read the Bel Tel, since Gusty has always denied his guilt:

    Maybe you can follow up and ask Mr. Rowan what the status is, i.e., are they looking for the letter, have they found the letter, etc. Hope they find the letter, otherwise, like here with McGurk’s, we won’t ever know whether some disappeared the letter since it wasn’t what they wanted to read (i.e., the assumption is that he’s guilty but maybe he was made to take the rap in an attempt to deal the UVF a death blow early on).

    By the way, so you will forever know that not all was sweetness and light with the purported forces of law and order, you might also read:

    The only question I still have is whether the UVF bombed his home on their own or were they encouraged by RUC Special Branch.

  • Turgon

    I called you on the first lie and rather than withdraw it you simply produced another lie on which I have caught you out as well.

    Yet again I point out that you lied saying that I did not think any members of the security forces should face trial. I provided evidence of me having said that and you claimed I was lying.

    Hence, far from admitting to being a liar let alone take back the lie you merely tell another lie. Maybe deal with what I say rather than what you wish I said.

    Essentially slappymcgroundout you are a troll. I probably should simply ignore you but I do find a certain harmless pleasure in pointing out your lies and your complete lack of knowledge of Northern Ireland. It is not exactly intellectually challenging dealing with you.

  • “I don’t blame the responsible authority for McGurk’s”

    Slappy, when there’s a state of bedlam, the responsible authority’s writ doesn’t run; local players take the law into their own hands eg no-go areas. At that period of time there were several responsible authorities: Stormont, London, police and army. Each had their own roles and within each there will have been competing agendas.

    All players, as I’ve said previously, are multi-faceted. Eg, if a police officer acts outside the law his motivation may be driven by revenge or by desperation; it will be influenced by political and religious belief as well as by perceptions of the past. I say perceptions because I think these are probably more important than facts when the kitchen overheats.

    Unless those who placed the bomb or who directed the bombing speak out it will be very difficult to establish the motivation. Attempts have and will be made to join up the dots but the conclusions reached could be well wide of the mark. That’s why, in a very different context, I’ve been more interested in gathering information about the NI Water fiasco than in rushing to judgement. There’s always the risk that the victim or the scapegoat gets blamed and the real story gets buried.

    You may be familiar with the term lynch-law. Apparently the term is mainly attributed to a man called Charles Lynch. A snap judgement might indicate Irish Catholic. The surname certainly looks Irish but his creed was Quaker. Dan Winter, a name associated with the Battle of the Diamond and the formation of the Orange Order, was a Quaker. A Belfast Quaker whom I met at Corrymeela was gobsmacked when I told her about Dan as local Quakers have been very involved in peace and community work here; they’ve often been perceived as neutrals in the Troubles.

    All, this is a very traumatic topic so can I make a special plea to wind down some of rhetoric: the charge and counter-charge? You know it makes sense.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    The figures you quote are damning – for Irish Republicanism. If you’re trying to make an anti-security forces point, it has backfired.

    McGurk’s was a terrible atrocity carried out by Loyalists and poorly investigated. But trying to see state collusion in every Loyalist terror act is a deluded attempt to shoe-horn events into ideological narratives. The truth of largely independent, home-grown anti-Irish terrorists doesn’t fit with Republicans, who were always desperate to have the state as their nemesis. Unionists have to have the roll of semi-conscious dupes or self-serving lackeys, or the whole facade of Republican ideology falls apart. Do they really doubt how much Loyalists hated them during the Troubles, or Loyalists’ capacity for sectarian violence? Republicans are all over the place on this, as on so many issues.

  • Mark

    Slappy ,

    I never thought I’d hear someone quote Sgt Hulka on Slugger O Toole and I only have one question for you ,

    Did you cry Slappy when Old Yeller Died ? Hands up if you did ………


    Turgon (profile) says: 23 February 2011 at 7:34 am Ciaran wrote,
    1.The UVF were a pack of sectarian terrorist murderers and had no right to kill anyone at all.

    2.Personally I would like to see some more of the murderers caught for this sectarian mass murder but your relatives and friends were completely innocent and although I have never doubted it you have the absolute right to proclaim that as loudly as you wish.


    I was trodging through S tonight and cam accross this thread, its obvious to vryone that Slugger is overwhelmingly Nationalist/Republican so it no surprise that any articles which include the Loyalist Paramilitaries are hammered by the people from the otherside, most of it is understandable giving the years of conflict both our communities came through but much of the abuse is poorly thought out & from what ive seen is usualy inacurate .

    On this thread ive stopped myself at one of the 1st posts , i ask myself how are we suppose to move on when people are so nieve & so determined to point score ?

    1. The UVF unit came from the Shankill area of Belfast, stoy was Mcguirks was knee deep in the workings & the goings on of the Provisionals ofthe time, write ? Wrong ? who knows ? iam certainly not saying that was an excuse nor was it reason but weve got to rewind the tape here & try ad put ourselves in the mindset of the time, Belfast in that era was a horible place to live & grow up (for everyone) and the violence was prompted by violence itself .

    The Bombing of Mcguirks was a reaction just like so many other Bombings where , on the Shankill itself we had the 4Step, The Beyardo, The Mountainview, The Furnature shop & in all men women & children where kiled , ofcoarse the saughter continued on both sides over the following decades but les just focus on this era for now & although it can never excuse it atleast lets people understand cruel hard nosed violence of the time .

    2. Ofcoarse a person is right to claim justice for the pain caused thats undestandable , but what about our people ? where is their Justice ? all we hear is enquiry about this and that from the Nationalist people and when we raise voices or justice its smoothed over & hushed away, weve suffered Hundreds but Kingsmills was a devestating blow not just for the families involved but f the Siche of Northern Ireland as a community , that event was the mountain that many people have never to this day got over & was itself reason why many me joined the Ulster Volunteers , you dismiss us as blood thirsty people with no cause but theUVF resisted republican violence, it truely protected its community where the police & army couldnt you can deny me these truths if you wish but we know what was the truth & what was lies.

    It was a tit for tat inviroment , if the uvf got a name of a Republican who attacked the community in Bomb or Gun it worked its people to get that Republican, there was no Glory but their was Revenge , the Republican movement had to know that we werent going to sit back & take hit after hit , lifes not as simple as that , people just arent that weak .

    Respects & Condolances o the INNOCENT FAMILIES
    who sadly lost but in the IRAs own words it was a war situation , Republicanism attacked & we defended ! WE HAD NO OTHER CHOICE !!!