British Prime Minister Files prove that the British army expected the bomb car and could have prevented attack on Kelly’s Bar on 13th May 1972.

Secret files – one signed by the British Prime Minister Edward Heath – prove that the British officer in charge of an observation post overlooking Kelly’s Bar was “warned to keep a lookout” for the car over 2 ½ hours before the car bomb attack.

Situation Report for the attention of the British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and initialed as read by him
Situation Report for the attention of the British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and initialed as read by him

The Kelly’s Bar car bomb attack demolished the pub, killing one and injuring 63. It also began a series of violent incidents which resulted in 4 other deaths.

Families of those killed in the Kelly’s Bar bomb attack and subsequent events have joined with scores of victims injured in the bombing to demand to know why the British state:

  • Expected the car at Kelly’s Bar
  • Did not prevent the attack
  • Covered up for the Loyalist bombers
  • Blamed the innocent civilians for the attack

A secret file initialed by British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, records:

“The NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] who observed the incident had been informed at 1430 hrs that day to look out for a stolen blue BMC 1100. The BMC 1100 which stopped outside Kelly’s Bar fitted this description and the movements of its occupants were carefully noted.”

Part of the Situation Report file on the Kelly's Bar attack signed by the British Prime Minister
Part of the Situation Report file on the Kelly’s Bar attack signed by the British Prime Minister

Kelly’s Bar was bombed just after 1700 hrs (5pm). A coordinated gun attack by Loyalists on the survivors began minutes later although Loyalist violence was denied by the state.

In the same Prime Ministerial file there is a prior record of a high-level meeting between Ministry of Defence, Northern Ireland Office and Downing Street officials which states:

“There is to be a check on the suggestion that he [the NCO above] had been warned to keep a lookout for a car answering the description of that involved in the incident. If the suggestion is confirmed it will help his account to prevail.”

Kelly's Bar attack discussed at a high level meeting
Kelly’s Bar attack discussed at a high level meeting

The NCO lied and said that the occupants of the car entered the bar and the bomb exploded when they were leaving.

The archives were discovered at Kew National Archives by author Ciarán MacAirt who manages the charity, Paper Trail. Paper Trail helps families and legal representatives target secret information in archives across the country.

Ciarán MacAirt says:

“I have researched Kelly’s Bar for a number of years because of its grave connection with the bombing of McGurk’s Bar which claimed the life of my grandmother and 14 other civilians. The same death squad was guilty of the attack and the British state covered it up in exactly the same way, even blaming the innocent customers in both bars. Police past and present, from the RUC to the PSNI and HET, have failed in their catastrophic investigations of each case too. In fact, the failed HET reviews of the McGurk’s Bar and Kelly’s Bar atrocities were signed off by the same Senior Investigating Officer.”

“Paper Trail has been working with the families and their legal team to uncover the truth about Kelly’s Bar and these archives give us a greater understanding of why the state tried to criminalise innocent civilians and covered up for pro-state mass murderers, allowing them to kill again and again – they expected an attack on the bar”

Read the files here

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