Category: Archive

Report urges private probe of 1974 Republic bombs

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

>By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Angry relatives of the dead and injured in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings have clashed with former Tanaiste John Wilson following his recommendation that a private judicial inquiry be held into the atrocities, with the findings then made public.

After the Good Friday peace agreement of April 1998, Wilson was appointed as commissioner to consider the situation of victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles living in the Republic.

His wide-ranging report, released Wednesday in Dublin, contains a series of recommendations to deal with the emotional, medical, financial and commemorative issues surrounding the victims.

Wilson’s report also suggests that retired Supreme Court judges conduct independent inquiries into the bombings as well as into the death of Seamus Ludlow, 47, a bachelor with no paramilitary links who was shot dead near his Dundalk home in 1976.

Last year, a man made a statement to the RUC and subsequently three former Ulster Defense Regiment members were questioned by the RUC in connection with Ludlow’s death and a file has been sent to the North’s director of public prosecutions.

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

There has also been suggestions of security-force collusion with loyalist terrorist groups in the near simultaneous three-car-bomb explosions in Dublin and Monaghan

No one has ever been charged with the Ludlow killing nor with the bombings, which left 33 dead and more than 200 injured. The bombings caused the greatest loss of life in a single day since the Troubles began and have been dubbed the "forgotten massacre" by the relatives.

Public inquiry sought

Greg O’Neill, the lawyer for the relatives’ group, Justice for the Forgotten, said he will urge the government to set up a full public inquiry.

He said arrangements could be made within a public inquiry to deal with sensitive evidence or to hear the testimony of witnesses who might be reluctant to appear in public.

"It is essential it is a public inquiry," he said. "The sense of there being a cover-up for the last 25 years has to be removed."

O’Neill said there had been "shocking revelations" earlier this year about the lack of cooperation between the gardai and forensics experts.

However, Wilson said some victims’ relatives he had met did not want an inquiry at all.

"They don’t want a kind of circus and being exposed to all that kind of publicity," Wilson said. "Strictly speaking, what I am recommending is both private and public because the retired Supreme Court judge will make his report public.

"It is very important when dealing with this to understand the hurt of the people and this gives rise to anger. Anger is not always conducive to sound judgment about anything."

The response from some of the relatives was angry. "What are they afraid of?" asked Frank Massey, whose 21-year-old daughter, Anna, was killed in Dublin.

"I have no time for politicians for the way they have treated us. They have treated us like lepers. We are looking for justice and truth. I want to know who murdered my daughter and I want to know why she was murdered. They’ll have to have a bloody good reason for it."

Martesa Kearney, who was injured in the Talbot Street bomb in Dublin, said Wilson’s proposal didn’t go far enough. If public inquiries involving two judges could be held because people didn’t pay their taxes, then there should also be one into an atrocity that claimed so many lives and maimed so many people.

Michelle O’Brien, who was 8 when her mother was killed in the bombings, said that, unlike the victims of other atrocities, there was little help for them.

Government sources indicated the recommendations of the commission will be accepted.

The bombings have been surrounded in controversy, with some claiming there was British security-force collusion with loyalist terrorists in the planting of the no-warning car bombs.

In 1997, Dublin pensioner Paddy Doyle failed in a court bid to obtain Irish police investigation reports of the bombings to help him fight a case against Britain in the European Court.

Doyle lost his daughter Anna, son-in-law John and two infant granddaughters, Anne Marie and Jacqueline, in one of the two Dublin bombings.

He took the case against Garda commissioner Patrick Byrne, who argued that the files were sensitive and confidential.

Doyle’s complaint to the European Court of Human Rights centers on allegations that the RUC failed to investigate the bombings adequately.

In a 1993 TV documentary, a spokesman for a loyalist terror group, the Portadown-based Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force, admitted involvement in the bombings.

The documentary claimed the identity of the eight UVF bombers was known to gardai within days of the bombings and another 12 names had been added with the help of intelligence sources in the North.

Report details

Wilson’s report, entitled "A Place And A Name", also recommends a payment of £10,000 to bereaved families, payment of continuing costs, a pension for some victims and a general review of the compensation plan for criminal injuries.

He also recommends a joint British Irish "Cultural and Resource body" to help victims bring their stories to a wider audience.

It would also be responsible for a monument , a day of remembrance, a memorial buildings and a victims’ archive.

Wilson said he believed one of the most important recommendations involved the establishment of trauma teams in all the health board areas.

They would involve doctors, social workers, teachers, clergy, gardai and voluntary agencies who would be ready and trained to deal with any major incidents like bombings, but could also be called in for other stressful or emotionally traumatic incidents like large fires or extensive flooding.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese