By Jim Smith
NO. ANDOVER, Mass. — Don Mullan, whose book "Eyewitness Bloody Sunday" served as a catalyst for the new inquiry into the 1972 massacre in Derry that left 14 civil rights marchers dead, told an audience at Merrimack College recently that the Irish government covered up the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings, which killed 33 people and injured hundreds more.
In a book that will be released later this year, "Bombed and Abandoned," Mullan will charge that the Irish Department of Justice and the Irish Police Force obstructed justice and may have violated the Irish Constitution when they shut down the investigation into the largest mass murder in England or Ireland this century.
On May 17, 1974 three car bombs detonated in moments of one another, killing 26 people and injuring 253 on the streets of Dublin during the evening rush hour. Ninety minutes later, in Monaghan city, 70 miles to the north, a fourth bomb went off, killing seven more.
Within weeks of the bombings, the Irish police had the identity of eight prime suspects, all members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist terrorist group.
"Initially the Irish police did a tremendous job, but after three months the investigation was quietly parked, and it has remained that way ever since," Mullan said.
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Mullan credits the British television program "First Tuesday’s Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre" for revealing in 1993 startling documentary evidence about British military collusion in the bombings.
A premise of that documentary and Mullan’s upcoming book is that the British Army had been providing loyalist terrorists with sophisticated timing devices and explosives during a period of heightened tension in the North.
In December 1973 the Sunningdale Agreement had been signed. It established power-sharing in the North and gave Dublin its first political role in Northern Ireland. Loyalist factions opposed to the agreement had been stepping up sectarian attacks.
Mullan, a Derry native now living in Dublin, told the college audience that Irish police and British intelligence agents were working closely together during that time and that their cozy relationship continued to solidify over the years.
"In the mid-’80s the Irish Army was so concerned by the level of contact between the Irish police and the British Army that Irish Army intelligence produced a detailed file in which they listed known contacts between members of the Irish police and British intelligence," Mullan said.
"I’m arguing that the contact between elements of the Irish police and British intelligence may have been unlawful and unconstitutional," he said. "It’s practically unheard of for a civilian police force to be dealing in such a way with a foreign military power."
Mullan said that the families of the victims, until recently, were ignored by officials of the Irish government and police force and were never given any explanation of why no one was ever interrogated about the murders despite the existence of strong evidence which pointed to the eight prime suspects.
"I believe that at the very highest levels with the Irish Department of Justice and within the Irish police force a decision was made to sacrifice the families’ search for truth and justice in order to cover up a snake pit," Mullan said.
Last week, Mullan met with Congressional staff of U.S. Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is chairman of the International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee. Preliminary discussions are under way about holding Congressional hearings into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.