Northern Ireland Assembly: Matters of the Day: McGurk’s Bar Bombing (22 February 2011)
Alban Maginness (Social Democratic and Labour Party)
I pay tribute to the families of those who were killed or injured in the bombing of McGurk’s Bar. They have worked unceasingly to clear the names of those who were the victims of the bombing in 1971. For the past 40 years, they have been rightly aggrieved over the way in which those victims were treated and libelled by the press, some politicians and the police and Army.
It is a moment of vindication for those families, and I pay tribute to them because they never lost their dignity and their thirst for justice. We should also remember that, shortly after the bombing of McGurk’s Bar, the late Mr Paddy McGurk asked publicly that those who carried out that atrocious act should be forgiven. He quoted scripture and said:
“forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
That was testament to his Christian spirit, and it also reflected the Christian spirit of those who campaigned for so long to clear the names of their loved ones and to get a proper investigation into this grievous atrocity.
I am deeply disappointed by the reaction of the Chief Constable. He has explicitly rejected the central finding of the Police Ombudsman’s investigation, which was that there was investigative bias by the RUC. He should have taken the example of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, when the Bloody Sunday report was published and apologised immediately and without qualification to the relatives of the McGurk’s Bar victims. It is with sadness that I say those things, because I have immense respect for Matt Baggott. He has been badly advised on the issue, and he should reflect carefully on what has been said. Whoever penned that statement and put his name to it did not reflect what I think are the fine qualities that that man has and the leadership that he has given to the PSNI. Unfortunately, it is damaging not just to his standing but to the standing and the reputation of the PSNI.