REVEALED: ‘New critical evidence’ suggests British military lied about bombing of McGurk’s Bar


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British loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) blew up the McGurk bar in Belfast on December 4, 1971. He murdered 15 innocent people and injured more than 16. This bombing took place in the early years of the conflict in 30 years in Ireland. British authorities blamed the IRA, saying the bomb exploded prematurely en route to its target. But activists claim that claim was a lie.

As the 50th anniversary of this massacre approaches, the families of the victims have launched a new website. The site commemorates the dead, those who survived and their families. Since the bombing, these families have continued to fight for the truth. And as the anniversary approaches, they will “publish new evidence and critical papers.”

The Canary exclusively reveals some of this evidence which shows that a British Army commander lied about his knowledge of the bombing in a newspaper article just two weeks after the incident. Activists claim this is the first time this commander has lied about the bombing of McGurk Bar.

A new project begins

The site also includes works by award-winning Belfast artist Sinéad O’Neill-Nicholl. The artist has launched a sound installation project where she records “the lived experiences” of families in the aftermath of the massacre. The O’Neill-Nicholl project is called Never the same. The installation, at the site of the explosion, currently includes:

16 short recordings of families’ personal memories of grief and loss, which visitors can listen to at the McGurk’s Bar Memorial.

Ciarán MacAirt is a justice activist and the grandson of two of the McGurk’s Bar victims. He called O’Neill-Nicholl’s work an “innovative sound installation”. MacAirt will reveal “new evidence” about the bombing at this site. He said:

Sadly, the new website is also a timely reminder that our campaign for the truth continues even after 50 years, as UK authorities – including the Office of the Police Ombudsman, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Defense and Cabinet Office – withhold evidence from our families to this day. We will prove it in the coming weeks.

Read on …

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Some of this evidence relates to what Lt. Gen. Harry Tuzo knew about the bombing. Tuzo was a Commanding General Officer (GOC) in the British Army at this time. In a newspaper article from December 20, 1971, Tuzo said he was 98% sure the bomb went off inside the pub. In this article, Tuzo speculated that this was unlikely:

someone unknown to the inhabitants [regulars] from this pub could have entered with a package under his arm.

Therefore, Tuzo’s statement implicates the people inside the pub in the bombing.

What we already know

The website shows previously viewed secret documents which indicate that the British armed forces knew the bar had been attacked from outside. Further, it suggests that Brigadier Frank Kitson colluded with local police to lie about the bombing and hide the truth.

Indeed, as reported The Canary in August 2020, MacAirt discovered new files that revealed the name of the original UVF target. Records also showed there was a British Army presence nearby that evening. Additionally, MacAirt claims his records have shown a link between Kitson and the atrocity.

In December 2020, MacAirt released unpublished documentation that showed:

a high-level, coordinated and supported plot by security forces and the civil service to deceive the parliaments of Great Britain and Northern Ireland about the real circumstances of the McGurk’s Bar massacre.

Critical Documentation

Now, MacAirt has revealed exclusively to The Canary that part of this new documentation involves GOC Tuzo. Because just four days before his statement in the above newspaper article, he attended a security meeting at Stormont just outside Belfast:

They discussed the McGurk’s bar bombing during this meeting. Notes on meeting status:

Circumstantial evidence indicates that it was a premature detonation and that two of those killed were known members of the IRA, at least one of whom had been associated with bombing activity. Intelligence indicates that the bomb was intended for use elsewhere in the city.

“A Republican goal against his camp”?

Activists claim this is a lie. In fact, on the 49th anniversary of the bombing, they challenged the police to prove that the victims of the bombing were members of the IRA. They say they haven’t received a response yet. And as previously stated by The Canary, MacAirt alleges that the British Army and the RUC colluded “just hours after the bomb blast” to blame the victims of the blast. They called it a “republican goal”. A British Army newspaper stated:

RUC said the bomb in the pub was a bomb designed for use elsewhere, left in the pub to be picked up by the Provisional IRA. The bomb went off and it was a mistake. The RUC press office has a line on it – NI should take care of it.

But the British knew where the bomb was planted

According to MacAirt, all of this could have led the security forces to misinform Tuzo. However, in 2009 MacAirt uncovered information showing that Tuzo had been informed that the bomb was planted outside the bar and not inside:

A bomb allegedly planted outside the bar was estimated by the ATO to be 30/50 lbs HE (high explosive)

Then, in 2016, MacAirt and his legal team discovered a Northern Ireland Headquarters diary from December 1971. This revealed evidence that officers examined the bomb site the next morning and notified Headquarters. de Tuzo on the morning of December 5, 1971:

ATO [Ammunition Technical Officer] is convinced that the bomb was placed in the entrance on the ground floor. The area is cratered and was clearly the site of the explosion.

MacAirt said authorities had always told families they had not discovered the likely site of the explosion. But that was not the case. Because the ATO report, which was first sent to Kitson’s brigade headquarters, said:

As far as one can assess the damage and the crater by the expl[osion]… The bomb was placed at the entrance to the ground floor at the corner of the building facing the crossroads.

MacAirt said The Canary:

The British Army and its leaders, including Lieutenant General Sir Harry Tuzo and Brigadier Frank Kitson, knew the bomb had been placed outside the bar and the bar had been attacked. They knew the innocent victims weren’t to blame.

So when Tuzo offered his Christmas message at the December 20, 1971 press conference and spoke about the McGurk’s Bar massacre, he was lying.

Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Tuzo is as much part of the McGurk’s Bar massacre cover-up as his subordinate, Frank Kitson.

The truth will not stay buried

The project organizers believe that the Never the same The project will inspire other families in Ireland and the UK who wish to commemorate loved ones they lost during this 30-year conflict. The launch comes as Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is considering a criminal amnesty for British military personnel. This amnesty would also apply to loyalist and Republican paramilitaries who fought in the conflict. This amnesty would come into effect if Lewis’ plans became law.

Long before the government offered this amnesty, activists believed the British authorities had never revealed the truth about Britain’s involvement in the conflict. And as MacAirt added:

It is horrible to think that before burying our loved ones in cold weather in December 1971, the British state buried the truth.

This new website, along with MacAirt’s hard and in-depth investigative work, shows that whatever attempts the British make to bury the truth, activists will continue to uncover it.

Featured Image via YouTube – Paper Trail & YouTube – British Movietone

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