By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Claims that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Defense Regiment and British intelligence were directly involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombing atrocities 25 years ago are made in a dossier given to the Irish government.
The no-warning bombings were the greatest mass murder in the history of the state, with 33 people killed and more than 240 injured.
The dossier was handed over by Dublin lawyer Greg O’Neill, advisor to Justice for the Forgotten, the relatives and survivors group that has been seeking a full independent inquiry into the bombings.
Three bombs exploded within 90 seconds in Dublin and one in Monaghan on May 17, 1974. Nobody has ever been charged.
O’Neill said the dossier was based on information supplied by an unidentified source who claimed to have intimate knowledge of the bombings.
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He said there was detailed information in the dossier about alleged "hands-on involvement" of the security services.
"The material names the British intelligence officer who supplied the explosives as well as the UDR captain who participated in the attack on Dublin," he said. "The material names the RUC officer whose house was used for the assembly of the bombs.
"It further identifies a group operating within the Royal Ulster Constabulary and in close liaison with the British military who are responsible for many murders in Northern Ireland in addition to the 33 murders in Dublin and Monaghan.
"It alleges that the clandestine and criminal operations of this group were authorized at a very high level in the RUC," O’Neill said.
The solicitor revealed the contents of his dossier at a press conference a day after Justice Minister John O’Donoghue rejected a Sinn Féin call for a full independent inquiry.
The dossier also contains a British forensic report that is critical of investigation procedures surrounding the atrocity.
The report says there was an 11-day delay in getting debris from the blast sites to Northern Ireland’s Department of Industrial and Forensic Science department in Belfast.
The group claims that for the first time, the 25-year old report was handed over to the gárdaí’s top forensic scientist, Dr. James Donovan, by author Don Mullan, who is writing a book about the bombings.
Mullan described it as "absolutely shocking" that Donovan had not seen the report before. "The question is why?" Mullan said.
The Belfast report found that beer barrel fragments were the most significant forensic items. It says they were similar to many recovered from loyalist bombings.
Criticizing the delay in getting debris to the lab, the reports says that if a clue to who carried out the attacks were to be found, organic evidence needed to be examined within hours while inorganic material had to be examined within a few days of the blasts.
The Justice for the Forgotten group has been campaigning for an inquiry for several years in an effort to find out just who was responsible for the bombings.
Wendy Doherty was just a year old when her pregnant mother Colette, 20, was killed in the Talbot Street bombing in Dublin. She was standing beside her but survived.
"There is somebody big sitting on this. They have to search their conscience and say, ‘Well, look, these families are suffering and us keeping this a secret is not helping,’ " Doherty said.
"The families are going through torture. We deserve to know the truth and only the British and the Irish governments can give us that truth. We need to have this inquiry. We need to put a closure to all this suffering because it’s killing us."
O’Donoghue turned down an inquiry when it was raised by Cavan-Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin at the British and Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body plenary session in County Clare.
The minister said he was unconvinced that the inquiry being sought was the right course of action.
"It is important not to overlook the fact that the gárda investigation file on the bombings remains open," O’Donoghue said. "If any new information emerges which may bring the culprits to justice, it will be rigorously pursued by the gárdaí."
Mullan, who is the author of a book on the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry, believes an inquiry will eventually be held.
"The names of eight prime suspects were known. Some of them were members of the UDR, one of them I understand was an RUC special branch special agent and I am told that all of them were known to British military intelligence," he said.
In August 1997, a pensioner failed in his efforts to see gárda files on the bombings.
Finglasman Paddy Doyle, who lost his daughter Anna, son-in-law John and two infant granddaughters Anne Marie and Jacqueline, in one of the two Dublin bombings, took a High Court case to force Gárda Commissioner Pat Byrne to hand over the files on the atrocity.
With the backing of Justice for the Forgotten, he sought access to the gárda investigation files and records to support a complaint he has made against Britain to the European Court of Human Rights.
The case claims the RUC failed to investigate the bombings adequately.
The bombings are believed to have been carried out in association with the Portadown-based Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force, but there have been persistent claims of involvement by MI5, the SAS or other secret British Army units.
An ITV documentary in 1973 claimed the identity of eight UVF bombers was known to the gárdaí within days of the bombings and another 12 names had been added with the help of intelligence sources north of the border.