Hundreds mark anniversary of McGurk's atrocities

`Hundreds of people have gathered in Belfast for a memorial service to mark the 30th anniversary of one of the city's worst terrorist atrocities.

Hundreds of people have gathered in Belfast for a memorial service to mark the 30th anniversary of one of the city's worst terrorist atrocities.

On December 4, 1971, 15 people were killed and many others injured when loyalists bombed McGurk's Bar in North Queen Street.

To mark the anniversary, friends and families of those killed attended a special mass in St Patrick's Church in nearby Donegall Street.

Afterwards, they led a candle-lit procession to the site of the old bar where a new memorial to the victims - a 6ft emerald green cross - was unveiled.

The families are calling on the authorities to reopen the investigation into the Ulster Volunteer Force bombing and for an inquiry into the events surrounding the atrocity.

Five years after the bombing, Robert Campbell, the driver of the car used in the bombing, was arrested and given 16 life sentences after confessing. However, the actual bomber was never caught.

Marie Irvine, coordinator of the McGurk's Commemorative Committee, whose mother died in the bombing, said the service and new memorial meant so much to those bereaved.

She said: "It means an awful lot after 30 years of non-recognition for those killed.

"The service and memorial cross illustrate we will not be forgotten. The memorial is also an important place that relatives can visit to grieve properly."

Mrs Irvine added: "After today, people will know that a terrible atrocity occurred at this place and we will no longer have to stand by the roadside but have a place where we can feel our relatives' presence and remember them as they should be remembered."

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