Category: Archive

Inside File: Dublin-Monaghan and the three I’s

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The Dublin rush hour was in full swing when the bombs went off, three of them in separate city center locations, all within 90 seconds. Just 88 minutes later a fourth bomb exploded in Monaghan Town. When the debris had settled, the toll was 33 dead and 250 injured — the largest single casualty count of the entire Troubles. Yet, when the British TV channel Yorkshire Television broadcast a documentary on the bombings in 1993, part of the documentary’s title appeared to be at incredible odds with the scale of the carnage 19 years previously. The program was called "Hidden Hand — The Forgotten Massacre." Well, not everybody forgot.

May 17 marks the 25th anniversary of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and more than ever there are those who want answers to questions that still hang in the air as heavily as the odor of burned flesh.

The investigation file in the hands of the Irish police, the Garda Siochana, has never been closed. But at the same time, those files have never been made public and, despite repeated pleas from relatives of the victims, there has never been a full public inquiry into the bombings. What the public knows about the blasts, who carried them out and who, if anyone, helped them, has largely emerged as a result of the work and tenacity of journalists, relatives and friends of the victims.

One man who has written much about the bombings is Don Mullan, well known for his book "Eyewitness — Bloody Sunday." Mullan is currently writing a book on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings entitled "Bombed And Abandoned." An advance sample of what will be revealed in the book is delivered by Mullan in a piece entitled "Endgame?" which appears in the May issue of the Irish current affairs magazine, Magill.

Mullan was recently in New York playing up a particular angle on the bombings not often mentioned in Ireland. One of the dead was a French-born Jewish woman, Simone Chetrit, while another who lost his life was an Italian man, Antonio Magliocco. Mullan met with a number of journalists and representatives of the Jewish and Italian communities during his New York stopover. As with the Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson murders, there is significant Irish-American interest in the bombings. Additionally, however, the tragedy of May, 17, 1974 also throws up the other two I’s that have long been a cornerstone of New York politics: Isr’li/Jewish and Italian-American concerns.

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The relatives of the bombing victims expected Bertie Ahern to deliver on a promise that, as taoiseach, he would open the Garda files on the bombings to public scrutiny. But Ahern apparently backed off this pledge when he recently told members of the Justice for the Forgotten Campaign that there was "nothing in the files that would have suggested or indicated who was responsible." "IF" reckons that if this be the case, why not just open the files anyway? At least that would give the families some small degree of comfort.

Without the files being opened the many questions will simply continue. Why did the Garda investigators end up facing an apparent wall of silence in the RUC? What, if anything, was the connection between the alleged loyalist bombers and British military intelligence? Was there an intelligence hand behind the bombings? Beyond all this, there is an apparent inconsistency in the present Irish government’s eagerness for a full inquiry into the Finucane murder and its reluctance — no greater, it must be said, than previous Irish administrations — to open the possible Pandora’s Box that is Dublin-Monaghan.

Mullan told "IF" during his New York visit that the relatives of the victims were "angry and frustrated" by the lack of answers. If anything, that anger and frustration has grown with the years. When you lose the ones you love, 25 years is no time at all.

Delivering the Famine message

Letters are now landing on "IF’s" desk with U.S. Irish immigration stamps and handwritten words from senders indicating that the ship on the stamp is no luxury cruiser but a Famine-era coffin ship. The idea to add to each envelope what is not on the stamp itself came from Mary McCaffrey, an Echo reader in Los Angeles.

Now, New Jersey’s James Mullin has taken the idea to another level and is offering stickers that can go on an envelope in addition to the stamp. Mullin says that the stickers are "perfectly legal," although they do not count as postage. He has been selling the stickers at cost to members of the Irish American Unity Conference at 10 for a dollar, a hundred for $10 and so on. Mullin, who heads the Irish Famine Curriculum Committee, says he likes the sticker because it has powerful image and shows the Irish working to prevent starvation. He reckons that the stickers will help overcome "the disappointment we feel about the Irish Immigration stamp" and raise awareness of the Great Hunger. Mullin can be contacted at 757 Paddock Path, Moorestown, NJ 08057, phone (609)727-4255. His e-mail address is JVMullin@AOL.COM.

Angry at ad

His nom de guerre is "McMourn" and he — "IF" is working on the basis of a male — sent a fax giving out stink about a recent Irish Freedom Committee ad in the Echo which invoked the memory of Bobby Sands as part of the IFC’s opposition to the Good Friday accord. McMourn reckons that invoking Sands’s image "in opposition to the leadership he worked with is a travesty of the lowest kind." McMourn also dislikes the presenters of the "Radio Free Eireann" show on WBAI and reckons that the money spent on the ad itself should have gone to prisoners back in Ireland. McMourn also takes issue with some of the grammar in the ad text — "this kind of copy wouldn’t make your high school newspaper, but you pay for it!" — and in the middle of all this takes aim at WBAI management for engaging in a union-busting campaign at the station.

The fax cover page is headed: "Irish Republican Truth Commision." Good thing McMourn didn’t take out a paid ad. The anti-treatyites in the IFC would have had the last, eh, laff. Still, the point about union busting is interesting. Given the generally progressive whiff from various WBAI show presenters, there must be discomfort at the idea of union busting. Perhaps the "RFE" stars should make mention of such shenanigans on air for the benefit of listeners, many of them union members themselves.

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