THE MCGURK’S BAR BOMBING 1971: ASSISTANCE FROM A FOIA APPEAL
KRW LAW LLP is instructed by a number of families whose relatives were killed in the McGurk’s Bar Bombing 1971. These include researcher and campaigner Ciaran MacAirt who has used the resources at the National Archives at Kew to undercover much valuable information held by the British government about the circumstances of the murder of his grandmother Kathleen Irvine.
Last month before the First Tier Tribunal (General Regulatory) (Information Services), KRW LAW LLP presented an appeal against decision of The National Archives (TNA) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) upheld by the Information Services Commissioner (ICO), to withhold from disclosure parts of a 1971 MOD file relating to the bombing. This is one file out of the many requested by Ciaran MacAirt in his research on the bombing undertaken over many years. Mr MacAirt has confronted files being removed, redacted and closed.
Yesterday, the Tribunal published its decision which allowed the appeal against the ICO and issued a new Notice of Decision in this matter. There was both an open and closed judgment. Mr MacAirt was granted disclosure of further parts of the requested information held in the file: including the confirmation of where the McGurk’s Bar Bomb was placed and that there was an informer supplying information.
There is still information in the file which is subject to exemption on the grounds of risk to individuals if their names were released. KRW is seeking clarification on this aspect of the judgment. Nevertheless, despite strong opposition from the MOD, the judgment of the Tribunal is a success in that it enables others to use the FOIA process to achieve access to information relating to the ‘secret history’ of the Conflict. A ‘secret history’ the British government seeks to remain a secret or to suggest is only a pernicious counter-narrative of uncomfortable truths. The Tribunal disagrees.
Ciaran MacAirt made this statement:
“We have proved collusion in the McGurk’s Bar Massacre and now know that an informant is involved, but further critical evidence is being withheld by the British Ministry of Defence and police. We can only assume that this evidence is even more damning. The British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, has the power to access and release the rest of this information which is critical evidence in the mass murder of our loved ones. He can end the re-traumatization of our older family members by the police in relentless court battles, and save hundreds of thousands of pounds spent by the MOD in trying to prevent us from learning the truth about the McGurk’s Bar Massacre.”
Contact: Christopher Stanley (07976070027)
KRW LAW LLP
3rd Floor, The Sturgen Building
9 – 15 Queen Street Belfast