|The Dublin and
May 17th, 1974
|Victims of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings|
|The Search for
|Victims of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings|
|Parnell Street, Dublin
|John O'Brien, aged 23, employed by Palm Grove|
|Anne O'Brien, aged 22, housewife|
|Jacqueline O'Brien, aged 1, daughter of John and Anne|
|Anne Marie O'Brien, a baby, daughter of John and Anne|
|John Dargle, aged 80, pensioner|
|Patrick Fay, aged 47, Post Office worker|
|Antonio Magliocco, aged 37, Italian restaurant owner|
|Edward John O'Neill, aged 39, self-employed painter and decorator|
|Breda Turner, aged 21, civil servant|
|Marie Butler, aged 21, nurse|
|Talbot Street, Dublin
|Anne Byrne, aged 35, housewife|
|Simone Chetrit, aged 30, Parisian student|
|Colette Doherty, aged 20 and pregnant; shop owner|
|Anne Marren, aged 20, civil servant|
|Marie Phelan, aged 20, civil servant|
|Maureen Shiels, aged 44, civil servant|
|Siobhán Roice, aged 19, civil servant|
|Josephine Bradley, aged 21, civil servant|
|Breda Grace, aged 35, housewife|
|Mary McKenna, aged 55, shop worker|
|Concepta Dempsey, aged 65, shop worker|
|Dorothy Morris, aged 57, employed at Cadbury's|
|John Walshe, aged 27|
|Elizabeth Fitzgerald, aged 59, housewife|
|South Leinster Street, Dublin
|Anna Massey, aged 21, employed at Lisney's auctioneers|
|Christina O'Loughlin, aged 51, employed at Shelbourne Hotel|
|John Travers, aged 29, self-employed|
|Margaret White, aged 44, restaurant worker|
|Thomas Campbell, aged 52, agricultural worker|
|Patrick Askin, aged 44, forestry worker|
|George Williamson, aged 73, farmer|
|Archibald Harper, aged 73, farmer and publican|
|Thomas Croarkin, aged 36, agricultural worker|
Esma Crabbe (15), volunteer with St. John’s Ambulance who assisted at Parnell Street. Quoted in Evening Press, 18 May 1974.
"Then I was called to a man covered by a plank. When I lifted it up one of his legs was missing and lying nearby. One side of his head was completely ripped away and was lying on the ground. A child aged about 12 lay nearby. At the scene there were bodies all over the place; many people were in deep shock, and there were terrible injuries."
Stories of personal trauma, hitherto personal stories alone, come into the public domain and become, when put alongside the numerous other personal stories, a major act of collective remembering. As such they are cathartic on a personal level, but on a public level they constitute an important collective breaking of the public and official silences surrounding the events. And here the personal narratives and the larger historical and legal story of the bombings and their aftermath dovetail. As Sonia Askin, also remembering her father, Patrick Askin, a victim of the Monaghan bombing, relates, until recently the event was only remembered by those directly involved in one way or another: "It's like nobody else cares. It doesn't seem to be part of the history of Ireland at all. It's just blanked."
|Extracts from the Public Hearing
of the Barron Report
Mr. John Byrne: I will talk about the Parnell Street bombing.[...] What I remember is that the evening was lovely. [...] I went [to the Metro], sat at the top of the counter and ordered a pint. [...] Within minutes there was a dreadful explosion. I was sitting on a stool and was blasted off it, hurting my back. The front of the pub then came crashing in. There were a couple of customers in the pub and just as they were walking out I urged them to go down to the back, by the toilet. I half-crawled back down to the toilet. I did not want to go out in case there was another explosion. The customers did as I suggested. I was in total shock at the time.
Within a minute we came out of the pub. When I looked around there was complete devastation. Shop fronts had been blown out. The worst atrocity was at the Welcome Inn. Bodies were lying on the ground and cars were wrecked. There was smoke billowing out of buildings. I stayed on the scene for only a minute or so. I feared for my wife and son where we were living, as strange cars used to park outside the flat. Just as I got to the junction of Parnell Street and O'Connell Street, the Talbot Street bomb went off. I went back to the flat. I was devastated and in shock. My wife was after saying to me, "What happened to you?" I told her, "I was caught up in the bomb." My wife was thrown aside with my son in the flat we were living in by the devastation in Talbot Street. I will never forget them; it will never leave me. The sound of the bomb will never leave my head. I was completely devastated. My working life was destroyed. I suffered terrible trauma and shock. I have been attending hospitals for the last 28 years. I am still attending today. I am still on medication even to this present day, 28 years later. That is how I feel about the bombing which will never leave me. That is my summing up of the bombing.
Ms Bridget Fitzpatrick: On 17 May, at 5.25 p.m., I was in the middle of the road on Parnell Street with two of my sons. I was after coming out of a shop on Parnell Street called Hamills with my seven year old son's Communion clothes under my arm. I had my other son, Tommy, who was five and a half, by the other hand and I got a bang of a 250 pound bomb into the side of my face. The only way I could describe it to everybody here is that it was like as if a bus had hit me on the side of the face. I remember my head going over. I was facing the garage that that chap, Derek Byrne, worked in. I can only describe it as that the garage was coming out into my face and a baby's pram was going up over it.
On impact I ran with my two sons. I had been working in the Rotunda Hospital. I had been in there a few months before when I had diabetes and lost a baby boy in a full-term birth. I remember my little five and a half year old, Tommy, who is now deceased, screaming, "Mammy, mammy, stop, the bomb got me in the leg." I do not know what you call it but I was running through a few feet of glass and thick yellow and grey smoke which was like a wall that I could not get through with my two little boys. I just knew I had to run and could not fall because my children needed me - I was their ma.
When I got to the Bank of Ireland on O'Connell Street, I could see to the right of my eyes visions of young girls and people screaming. "Stop, stop that woman, look at her" but nobody could stop me until I got to the Rotunda because that was a safe place for me because I was after having my eighth child there and I worked in it as well. When I got to the door of the Rotunda, this doctor was coming out and I said, "Doctor, doctor, help me and my children." He said, "There are people who are worse off up the road, go in." I did that. When I took my hand away, there were clots everywhere on it. I got inside and held onto the counter. I felt something sticking in my back and pulled out a lump of tin which was in my lung.
I was brought into the emergency department. My little boy, Tommy, had two parts of his legs stitched. My other son, Derek, did not get stitches and I was anointed a few hours later. A doctor came from the Richmond Hospital and asked me if I had ever heard of a perforated eardrum. I said, "I did but, doctor, I don't care if my hearing is gone. Will you, please, let me go home to my other five children?" I could hear my two sons outside saying, "We want our ma, we want our ma." The nurses in the Rotunda brought them over to the shop and bought them Rolos and Crunchies. How could I forget? I just kept saying to them, "I am all right," but for three hours there were sheets being taken from under my lung and clots popping out of me. The doctor came from the Richmond and told me that I had a perforated eardrum and punctured lung. Anyway, it came to pass that the priest came from Marlborough Street Church and anointed me. I said, "Father am I going to die? My kids." He said, "No, you will be okay." I have never been okay to this day.
I went home with a big bandage around my leg holding my two lovely boys. I marched up Sean McDermott Street where I am proud to say I live. There were lovely, decent people living on it - neighbours. About 500 people from all the flats and the houses cheered me and my two sons up the street. When I got home, I did not know where I was, naturally. Three big men - I reckon they were from the Government - came to my home and apologised to me. They said they were very sorry for what had happened to me. My brother brought me to Artane where he lived. I thanked the men and that was the end of it.
I was told in the Rotunda Hospital that it was only a maternity hospital and that it was sorry but that I was to bring my two children to Temple Street the next morning and that I was to go to the Mater Hospital, which I did. I stayed in Artane with my brother Paddy and I brought my seven children with me. My eldest daughter, Lily, who is sitting over there, had to help me get through life and with the kids because my husband left me as I was not real woman any more. I worried about my children. I overprotected them; thank God I did. I went to the Mater Hospital where I was told I would be deaf before I was 40 years of age. I have suffered from a balance disorder since. I have not been in town for 15 or more years and I have not been on a bus for nearly 20 years. I do not go shopping; I do not go anywhere. I just live on my nerves.
My son, Tommy, died. He went on his first holiday in the sun at 29 years of age and suffered a heart attack in the swimming pool in Santa Ponsa. My other son has been in every hospital one could name. He has tried to commit suicide. I am a broken mother but I love my children so much. We are real people. I am here to tell you all about my sons and my poor daughter who had to leave school to help me because my husband did not want to know. That is my side of the story. I was never treated for my injuries. I never knew what to do. I did not get time to think about it because I had to rear my children. I am not looking for sympathy; I am looking for justice for people like me.
I do not sleep very well, so I listen to Newstalk 106 when I am awake during the night. I have heard people say this is hardly worth bothering about and that it is 30 years since the bombing happened. It happened to me and I lost my family. My marriage failed and I had to live in very bad circumstances, although I do not care about money anyway - I am not talking about that. I had to struggle with my seven children and I did not get any help from anywhere. Nobody knocked on my door to ask us if we were okay, which we were not. I am still not okay. God bless you all and thanks for listening to me.[...]
Ms Alice O'Brien's sister lived around the corner from me and I had to go through my life looking at a baby's pram going up in front of my eyes. It only took a split second but it happened to me. Her little niece was found on the roof of The Welcome Inn with a soother in her mouth the next morning. The other baby was found that night.
I witnessed some horrific sights. I was in the Rotunda Hospital and I saw a chap with the top of his head gone. The glasses of an elderly woman were embedded in her eyes. It put so much fear in me and I have neglected my health. I thank God I did not neglect my poor family but they are all broken in different ways. I thank the committee for listening to me.
Mr. Pat Fay: My name is Pat Fay. [...] My father was murdered beside where Bridget was on Parnell Street. I lived in London at the time and I came back the next morning to identify my father in the morgue, something with which I have had to live all these years. Up to about five or six years ago, I never really discussed it or spoke to anybody about it because it was my suffering and was within me. It haunted me for a long time but now I can speak about it. Nobody knows what it is like to go into a morgue, to literally climb over bodies, arms and people blown to pieces and to go up to a slab and look at what is left of one's father. I was never able to say this before but I am now because I feel the only way we are going to get justice is for people to know what actually happened to us and the suffering we have had to go through to beg for what we, as human beings, are entitled to in a democracy. My mother died the same day; she was never the same woman. She was given so many drugs and so on. She was driven half way around the twist from the amount of medicine she was given to calm her down. It was ridiculous.[...]
There are a couple of things I would like to say. It is ironic that the Government of the day abandoned my mother and the rest of the people. I was travelling back and forward and did not really understand the extent of what was happening until I became involved in the campaign. To think that a Government would be allowed to do what it did and to get away with it or that high ranking members of the Garda could do the same-----Mr. D. Byrne: I was pronounced dead on arrival at Jervis Street Hospital and I was put in the morgue. It seems I woke up and they brought me up to the operating theatre. Fr. Paul Lavelle, the priest from Lourdes church, found me. I was found that Monday in Jervis Street. The papers reported that I was dead that Saturday morning.
Ms Marie Power: I am here today on behalf of my father, my two brothers and my two sisters. One of my sisters is here with me. My sister, Breda, died in the Parnell Street bombings and that Friday evening changed all our lives. We did not have a telephone at the time and when the news flash came on the television I went down to a public telephone to ring her to see if she was all right. There was no answer. Then I rang her boyfriend who said to leave it with him and he would try to contact her. That was it. Later on that night the Garda came.
I had a stepbrother living in Dublin who was in Parnell Street. He had got out of his car and gone into a bookie's office. He was thrown across the bookie's office and the glass was gone in his car when he came out.Breda was in a flat in Dublin. The landlord contacted my stepbrother later on in the evening to see if they could identify her in one of the hospitals, which they did. We never saw Breda. If one loses someone and one sees them, at least it is something.
Mr. John Molloy: On 17 May 1974 I was a pre-leaving certificate student[...] I ventured into Parnell Street some time after 5.30 p.m. and became involved in the Parnell Street bombings.
What I experienced on that day has never left me up to this present day, simply because I am still suffering the trauma and effects of what I witnessed, what I experienced and what I went through. I am attending counselling at present which, thankfully, the Government is providing for the victims. It has done me immense good. I was at the end of the road until the counselling came about.
I was taken to Jervis Street Hospital. Before that, the carnage I saw on the roads in Parnell Street was totally diabolical. I felt I was looking into hell from what I saw. People were lying on the roads moaning, with bits of pieces of bodies here and there. Some people were sitting in upright positions and constantly moaning. I also witnessed the emergency services in action, and our local clergy administering the last rites to those people who were very seriously injured or dead.
I happened to be standing on the road and witnessing all this in severe traumatic shock when a hand was placed on my shoulder to tell me that I had to be brought to a hospital. At that time I did not realise I was injured. All I could remember was repeating the words "I am OK." A man from St. John's Ambulance told me that I had a leg injury and had to have hospital attention, so I was brought to Jervis Street Hospital. When I got there I witnessed the roars and the screams. I also witnessed the great work that the medical staff did at that time, including doctors, nurses and all people connected to the hospital.
I was waiting for a time to be seen to as I was listed as having a minor injury. Sometime later I was taken behind curtains and was stitched up, as one would say, and I was in the observation room for sometime after before being allowed to go home in the early hours of the morning. For some reason I felt that I had to go back to the scene. At that time I lived on North Great George's Street. I went back to the scene at two o'clock or three o'clock in the morning, and since then, I have never felt such an air of solitude and calm.
I saw police officers on top of buildings and with white or black plastic bags to take up debris, and perhaps parts of bodies, I do not know. For three years after I found myself house bound. I feared to go out and did not leave my home because of the shock, although I did pursue the leaving certificate examinations two or three weeks after for the simple purpose of finalising what I had set out to do. I remember going into the examination rooms in the College of Commerce Rathmines. I never mentioned anything to my colleagues, students or teachers about being involved with the bombings. I just remained silent.
I sat down to do my leaving certificate examinations but all I could do was look at empty papers. That was basically it. I then found myself then at home. My 21st birthday was in 1974 and I celebrated it at home in isolation, suffering from post-traumatic shock and all that went with it. Times were hard then because I was living with my mother, and things got harder. One day a letter came addressed to me. I opened it, and it was from the criminal injuries tribunal board that had been set up by the Government some time after the bombings. The envelope contained a short letter and an enclosed cheque for £50. The letter, if I can remember clearly, stated: "Sign this and you can never go back on this again as regards injury claims." If I am not mistaken, it was signed by a Desmond O'Driscoll.
However, time passed and I felt I had to get myself going or I would crack up completely. I was with a doctor who asked me how things were and I said I was unemployed and felt I wanted to get some work, and he asked if I would take a job in a hospital. I went to see the personnel officer and I got work in St. Luke's Hospital in Rathgar in February 1977. It was there, when I started working, that I realised there was another body of people that was going through crisis, namely those who are terminally ill. Through working with them over the years I got some strength in so far as, you might say, two fires put each other out. Through the care and attention there, I felt I was getting a little inner strength to continue and forget my own problems.
About seven or eight years ago I read in a newspaper about Justice for the Forgotten looking for anybody who had been involved with the bombings in some way and my first thought was what a noble cause it was and to get in there and find out what had been going on. I was astonished and amazed at what I saw, the determination to work towards getting to the truth of what happened to us.
After a certain time, I found myself on the executive and travelling here and there, particularly to places in Northern Ireland. On 20 January 2000, I found myself in the Stormont offices and debating chambers looking for papers to assist us with our inquiry. I found the people there very pleasant and co-operative and I sensed there was an air of movement, both North and South, in dealing with the political divide.
I also went to the Pat Finucane Centre and we then discovered information on other events and atrocities that occurred which affected the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. With the help and co-operation of people there, we accumulated a sufficient amount of material to realise there had been some form of collusion down the line. Strong footprints of suspicion, as referred to in Mr. Justice Barron's statements, were inevitably all around.
Mr. Liam Sullivan: I am a victim of the 1974 Dublin bombings in Parnell Street. I had a small barber shop in Parnell Street at the time. My brother was doing some writing on the outside of the window about 15 or 20 minutes before the bomb went off. He did not seem quite the same since. Incidentally, he committed suicide last year. His name was Eamon.
We were working away that day and a friend of mine, Edward O'Neill, came into the shop[...] and his two sons got their hair cut.[...] Just as he was going out, the door was blown off. Eddie's two kids were destroyed and Eddie was killed. He was blown into the garage where young Derek Byrne worked, Westbrook Motors, next door to me.
We had perspex instead of glass, which saved anybody in the shop because it came in, it did not shatter, but a piece of steel did come in. It cut through the top of my head and stuck into the wall. I was injured but I carried on. We went outside and I went to Derek Byrne's assistance. Young Derek was in an awful state. He was a petrol pump attendant. I helped him out as best I could and I saw Pat Fay's father lying there as well. That gentleman was in a bad way too. He hung around for about ten minutes and he eventually got out of the street.
A friend of mine, Eugene Berry, came up to the house and when he saw the state I was in, he brought me over to the then Richmond Hospital. I will never be able to explain what I saw over there. It was like a slaughterhouse. There were bodies everywhere and people being operated on. I was kept there for a day. I was let out but I had to be brought back again.
It has been on my mind all my life that but for the fact that I knew Eddie, he would not have been down in the shop that day with his two kids. I have had to live with that. I have only been receiving counselling in the last two years but I do not feel any great benefit from it. Nevertheless, I am going ahead with it. Like everybody else, I would like to see a public inquiry. I would be most grateful for that. I thank the legal team as well for bringing us this far. Thank you very much.
Ms Philomena Lawlor-Watson: My name is Phil Lawlor-Watson and I was injured in the bomb in South Leinster Street. I can remember little immediately before the explosion of the bomb. When questioned later by the Garda, I could not remember anything of that afternoon.
It was a Friday and I was looking forward to the weekend.[...] I was sitting in a double-parked Chubb van across from the bomb vehicle at the railing of Trinity College. A colleague, Pat Ryan, sat in the back of the van with me. The driver, Jack Myler, turned the ignition key and simultaneously there was a very loud bang and our vehicle began to rock to and fro. The driver, Jack, who suffered head injuries, ran from the vehicle. Pat Ryan, my companion, dived head first over the front seat and ran screaming down the street dropping her bag outside the vehicle.
I can remember covering my face with my hands and waiting to feel something penetrate my body or to see an arm or a leg disappear. My hair stood straight up and my ears and scalp were full of tiny pieces of glass. One of my fingers was bleeding and there was a slit in the red shirt I was wearing and a wound on my left rib cage. I just sat there and did not move until I was pulled out of the van by Jack, who told me there was going to be another bomb. I was in deep shock.
We both returned to the reception of the Chubb offices where I saw a young lady wounded and lying on the floor. She had no clothes on her lower body and the calf of one of her legs was just a bloody mass with most of the calf missing. Her thumb was injured and she was calling for her mother and for a drink of water. I knelt beside her giving her water. The first aiders from Trinity then took care of her. The image of that young girl is still very vivid in my mind. I do not know her name and was never able to find out who she was.
We were then taken to Powers Hotel where I was given first aid and interviewed by a journalist from The Irish Times. Some time later I was taken home to my bedsit in Dufferin Avenue but I do not know by whom. I went into my home alone feeling as if in a nightmare. I sat on my bed with my back to the wall and with my knees drawn up to my chin. I was found there by my sister some time later. I have no idea if it was minutes or hours, I can only presume it was at least an hour because my sister lived in Carysfort and had to cycle across the city.
I just sat there feeling cold and numb. Later I began to shiver and could not stop. I was later taken by a friend to the accident and emergency department at a local hospital where I was given medication for shock and trauma. I slept well but the following days were very difficult. I could not forget the explosion, the bang and the fire. In particular, I could not forget the face of the young lady to whom I had given water, wondering if she lived or died. I was fearful of every car which was parked irregularly and on more than one occasion I called the Garda to inspect vehicles, which it did.
Since I joined Justice for the Forgotten, I have come to realise the total devastation felt by so many people who have lost loved ones. The victims who received serious and long-term physical and emotional injuries will carry their pain for the rest of their lives. Nothing could ever be the same again. In realising how lucky I have been, I also feel a sense of guilt that I survived while so many who were much younger than me, even babies, lost their lives.
How am I now? I am still quite jumpy and I suffer nightmares, not every night but many nights. I sometimes wake after loud bangs, obviously recalling the episode. My husband tells me that I jump in my sleep. I still feel shaky in the city centre, large stores and places of entertainment. I am constantly watching for anything suspicious or any person who is acting in a suspicious way. I received counselling a few years ago which helped me a great deal. I am on medication for panic attacks and claustrophobia and may have to remain on it for the rest of my life. It is 30 years since the bombings and it is incredible that so little was done to bring the perpetrators of such heinous crimes to justice.
Mr. Kevin O'Loughlin: I am making this submission on behalf of the family of the late Christina O'Loughlin. I am Kevin O'Loughlin, son of Christina O'Loughlin who was killed in the South Leinster Street explosion.[...]
My mother Christina was 51 years old at the time of her death. She worked in the Shelbourne Hotel and had a trade that was quite unusual, French polishing.[...] On the day she died, 17 May 1974, she would have been leaving the Shelbourne Hotel and would have passed the gates of Leinster House. She was on her way to our home not far away in Townsend Street. At the bottom of Kildare Street she would have turned down along the college wall towards Westland Row. I think she was probably talking to Frank Massey's daughter, Anna, because I understand they may have known each other. The bomb exploded, and I understand she was killed instantly.
At the time I was in the TSB in Abbey Street. I did hear the explosion. I went home to our house and I waited there with my brother and my father. We had no news, of course; we had no telephone. We waited the whole evening until well past midnight. We had no news whatsoever but we were aware that something was terribly wrong because we knew that she would have passed down that way. She would always come the same way - we dreaded that - but we knew in our hearts that something was terribly wrong.
Later during the night, my father eventually decided to go and search for my mother. He went around to the hospitals in Dublin asking where she was. He got no information at all, so at some stage in the night he would have gone to the morgue. It was there that he identified her body. That would have been at about three or four in the morning, I think. Obviously, I cannot say anything more except the fact that we were totally devastated by this. I remember her funeral and the presence of some Government Ministers at it. After that, we pretty much had to get on with our lives as best we could. As John Molloy mentioned, I remember the time when we received the compensation tribunal award. That was the only time I ever remember hearing anything back from the authorities about my mother's death. We never received any feedback on how the Garda investigation was going.
As time went on, we just carried on with our lives, as I said. We had our own private memorial mass for my mother. We really did not have much confidence in ourselves and in what we could do. In fact, we spoke very little about her death. My father, in particular, found it very difficult to talk about the terrible things he would have seen. Even to this day, he does not really talk about it. He finds it difficult.[...]
There were other issues. The first memorial was unveiled - members would not know this - on Parnell Square. I am not sure who was involved. There was a very small piece of stone which just said: "Dublin-Monaghan Bombings, 1974". That was all that was there and there was, as far as I remember, no official ceremony or whatever. If you had been walking up and down Parnell Square you would have seen this piece of stone in the corner which just said that. That was the only State recognition of any kind for many years to the fact that my mother had been taken away.
Mr. Brian Fitzsimmons: I am representing my wife, Nora, and my son, Jerome, who were injured in the Monaghan bomb. The reason I am representing my wife is that she does not like to speak about it, it affected her that much. On the day in question my wife who is actually from Monaghan was going home to visit her mother and stopped in Monaghan town for my son wanted chips. She got him the chips in the café and next there was a big explosion which she thought was a gas cylinder which had gone off but after the smoke had cleared away, she saw a hole which she climbed out through and pulled our son out. They were taken to hospital by some gent in a car. She was in hospital, I think, for three or four days.
I actually did not know anything about this until the Sunday - it was a Saturday night it happened - when my local parish priest came down and told me that he thought it was my wife who was in the bomb but it had come over on the media that she had two sons with her. I said to our local priest that it was not Nora because she just had Jerome with her but there was another young lad with him and they got mixed up, they were all in the same ward. I passed no more remarks about it but kept listening to the news and eventually I found out it was Nora. I had to get a car and drive to Monaghan Hospital but thankfully they were not too bad and they came through it well.
The after effects were the worst part of it. For a long time afterwards my wife would not go out and would not enter crowds or anything like that. Our social life was affected for a long time because we were very fond of dancing and going out to old time dancing events and she would not go to anything like that. Eventually, as time went on, we got it together again and got out again. It was terrible for a long time but we have got over it now. Thankfully, we still have her here, along with my son. Other people have lost their loved ones. I just happen to be one of the lucky ones.
Ms Iris Boyd: I thank the committee for giving me the chance to speak on behalf of my father, who was killed by the bomb in Monaghan.[...]
My father and I were shopping together in Monaghan on 17 May 1974. My father had asked me to call and see his sister in law, my aunt[...] While I was there, a newsflash on television announced that a bomb had gone off in Dublin, and I said I would have to leave. My uncle arrived in from work and said that as he was going to do overtime he would go back to work. He then left the house just ahead of me. As I was saying goodbye to my aunt at the door, the bomb went off. That is how close I was to being killed by that bomb. I feel so lucky that I am here today to be able to give evidence on behalf of my father.
I went down town, where there was devastation. I could not get near the car. I was told that people thought there was going to be a second bomb. I could not get near the car and I collapsed. I was brought round by someone who gave me a drink of brandy. Then my cousin saw me and he brought to the hospital. The Civil Defence did a great job on that day in Monaghan and I must speak on their behalf. They were excellent. They were on the scene very fast and had taken my father even before the ambulance arrived. When they approached the hospital they could not get near it because of a funeral emerging. There were bodies everywhere. It was terrible.
My cousin could not drive through the gates of the hospital so I said I would walk. I went in and met the nun who was the hospital matron. She took me into her office and told me that my father was in a queue for the operating theatre. I wanted to see him but they would not allow it. To this day I regret that, because he was still conscious. The Reverend Ahearne then came in. He had been boarding a bus for Newry to attend some social event there when he heard about the bomb and came straight to the hospital. He came over to me and I said: "Please tell me the truth about how my daddy is." He checked and told me that he was not among the worst injured, that he could pull through though he had head injuries. I then thought of how I would be able to tell my mother. We owned a pub in our village and my father was very well known. Another publican saw me and he knew my Dad very well and he came in and stayed with me. He said we would somehow have to get round to telling my mother. At that time I was married and had a three year old son. I telephoned a neighbour and asked the neighbour to tell my husband who could maybe break it some way to Mammy that Daddy had an accident. My mother arrived down and she could not understand what was wrong because the traffic was diverted in the town.
Daddy was still upstairs in theatre and nobody was allowed up. It was hours before I could see him. When we did see him, he was unconscious. He had gone into a coma and never spoke, nothing. We asked if we could have him moved to the Richmond in Dublin to get him seen to. They said he could not be moved.
My father lived from Friday until Tuesday but he never spoke. We were with him in the end but life has been very tough. It has never been the same for us as a family. Everything changed. That is all I can say.
Mr. Tim Grace: My name is Tim Grace and my wife, Rita Bernadette, was killed in Talbot Street. She was a beautiful young woman, aged 34 years, in excellent health and in the prime of her life.[...] We were in the seventh year of our marriage[...] with one child, a boy aged 13 months at the time.[...][Rita] went into town and parked the car in Gardiner Street, just around the corner from Talbot Street. She was obviously killed on the way back at 5.30 p.m. when the bomb went off.[...]
When my wife did not come home at 6 p.m, I was looking after the little fellow in bed. I had taken him in there to keep him quiet. I came down at 6 p.m. I was feeling a little better and turned on the news. Of course, the news was that bombs had gone off in Talbot Street. There was no sign of my wife. I had expected her home at about 6 p.m. or 6.30 p.m. At 7 p.m. I was standing at the door looking down the road waiting. There was no sign of her. I went next door and borrowed a car from my neighbour and went into town. I went to where I would usually park the car at the end of Gardiner Street. There was one car in the car park - my white Mercedes. It was a very distinctive car and one I did not want to see. You have no idea of the horror of what was going on in town and the reaction of people at that stage. By the way, I could not make any telephone calls from Portmarnock as all the telephones jammed that evening and were jammed for several hours. One could not get through to anyone.
On the way into town, I called at Clontarf Garda station and there was no news. I went to the gardaí on duty on Talbot Street who were all clearly traumatised. I do not know how I was managing to observe all this at the time but I did, thank God, and held my emotions to some degree at least. I told the garda my wife was definitely involved and I had to search for her. I knew she was involved because the car was at the end of Gardiner Street. The garda was very helpful. He cleared a way for me and, where the gardaí had stopped a lot of cars, he let me drive to Jervis Street Hospital, to which he said all the injured had been taken.
I went to Jervis Street Hospital. Talk about horror. People were out of control there. The doctors and nurses could not control the situation. After some time, I managed to get a look at the list of injured. I was not looking for the dead at this stage as I was hoping for a lot better. She was not on the list of injured so I asked what other hospitals were admitting the injured. They told me the Rotunda was. I went to the Rotunda Hospital where there were no dead. There were six bodies in Jervis Street at the time and my wife's body was there, although I did not know it. I had left Jervis Street and gone to the Rotunda. There were no bodies in the Rotunda and she was not on the list of those injured.
I will always remember the sister on duty in the Rotunda who brought me into her office and gave me a cup of tea. It was the best drink I ever had in my life. I like a drink but, by God, that was the best drink I have ever had.
I went from there to the Mater Hospital where there were two dead - one male. I was getting to the stage where I would look at the bodies. When I was in Jervis Street, my instinct was to look at the injured first. The bodies in the Mater were those of an old woman and a man. I rang my brother who came in from Glasnevin and met me at Doyle's Corner and we decided to go to the morgue. There were no bodies in the morgue at the time. They were being moved from Jervis Street to the morgue and I think there was some confusion because they moved the bodies back again. I do not know exactly what went on.
I could not find my wife and I kept hoping that, if she was not on the list of injured, she had been close to the explosion, had a dreadful experience and was suffering from nervous exhaustion somewhere. That was my hope. I went home to Portmarnock with my brother that night. We got up early the next morning at about seven o'clock and went to the morgue. I finally identified my wife's body an hour later in the morgue. They had moved bodies from Jervis Street to the morgue and back again. I do not know what sort of confusion was going on. I can imagine there was considerable confusion because, in terms of trauma, all one had to do was look at them in Dublin that night. I hope committee members never have to see a night like that again in Dublin.
Afterwards, I was totally shattered and traumatised for a considerable time - for several years. However, I launched myself into the task of raising my infant son and developing my business, which proved therapeutic. I am happy that I have been successful in both areas. I am chairman of my company, which is the top company manufacturing construction chemicals in the country, and my son, now aged 30, is a senior business executive making a significant contribution to the development of the country.
Ms Marie Sherry: My name is Marie Sherry and I was injured in the Talbot Street bomb. I was very young and carefree. I was heading down to my aunt's in County Westmeath for a weekend. I was heading down to Busáras. I first heard the bomb go off in Parnell Street and my reaction was that it sounded like a bomb, not that I had ever heard a bomb go off before, but I continued on my way. That is how carefree I was at the time.
I walked straight into the Talbot Street bomb. My injuries were a fracture to my skull, hearing loss in my left ear and many cuts and bruises. Looking back, they were nothing compared to the absolute mental turmoil in which I have lived my life since that. I can only describe my life, particularly in my 20s and 30s although not so much now, as one of constant alert. For weeks and months after the bombs I used go home and say, "Mum, any news on those people who did the bombing? Was anybody charged?". There never was news. There were no names. Nobody was charged. I lived my life thinking, "These guys are walking around. They could be sitting beside me in the cinema. They could be on the bus. These guys are free to do the same thing again". It was just awful and it ruined my life. I did not want to go into town to socialise with my friends, I did not like being in a pub and I did not like being at the cinema. I got up in the middle of a cinema one night because someone stood up, probably to go to the toilet, but I was convinced he was up to no good. It was horrific. Only when one has been through it can one realise how horrific it is to live one's life like that. I wish it had never happened. It was just awful.
Where the Government was concerned, it was as if I never existed. I heard nothing from it. I did not hear about it doing anything about investigating the bombing. It was as if it had been wiped out and had never happened. Someone must be held accountable. There is only one way to do this and that is through a public tribunal of inquiry. It is the only answer. For closure for each and every one of us, that has to happen. There is no other way.[...]
I certainly feel the State has let me down as a citizen. How else would one feel when one is totally ignored? The State treated us appallingly. We were treated like dogs which had been run over in the street. That is how I feel about it.
Ms Michelle O'Brien: I am the daughter of Anne Byrne who was killed on Talbot Street on 17 May 1974.[...] On 17 May 1974 our day started like any other, and little did we know that by 5.30 p.m. that evening our lives would change forever.[...]
I can remember hearing three loud bangs that evening as I stood in our house in Donaghmede. I asked what the noise was and our neighbour said it sounded like a gas explosion. When my dad arrived home from work that evening, our neighbour told him that our mother had not returned home. He started to search the hospitals and in the early hours of Saturday morning he found her remains in the morgue. He knew it was our mother because she had worn a green coat and by her wedding ring which I am very proud to wear today.
Our mother was buried on the following Tuesday which was my brother's birthday and to this day he has not celebrated his birthday. It took my dad 15 years to go up Talbot Street. When we were growing up, we were never allowed to go to town with our friends like other teenagers. My dad would drive us to town and wait for us, regardless of how long it took. He never drove up Talbot Street.
Mr. Edward Roice: Friday, 17 May 1974, was a turning point in my family's lives. It was the day I lost my beautiful 19 year old daughter, Siobhan. From that day our lives were never to be the same. It has broken our hearts and left my wife a very sad mother. We never thought that 30 years on we would still be struggling to get to the truth about how and why those 33 innocent victims died and we were neglected during the intervening years.[...]We brought Siobhan home from Dublin on a Monday and she was buried on the Tuesday. We had a few top people, as they may be described, at the funeral. Apart from that, nobody ever came near me or my wife as regards counselling or to ask how we felt. We might meet people in the street who would say: "How are you now?", "You will get over it" or the like. Nobody came to see if there was anything they could do or to ask how my wife felt about it. She was very upset. To this day it is the very same as it was 30 years ago.
Ms Gertie Sheils: My aunt, Concepta Dempsey, my father's sister, was the last remaining relative on my father's side. She worked in Guiney's for a number of years, travelled in from Drogheda every day on the train. She was a lady in her early sixties who was very quiet and reserved and certainly never did harm, by either word or deed, to anybody in her lifetime.
On the afternoon of 17 May 1974 my brother was driving past Guiney's. He was collecting two young cousins [who] stopped to buy sweets or magazines or something and were only just in the car when somebody said, "I wonder if Cepta has gone home yet." Apparently, someone else said, "Oh, I think she has gone for the train," so he drove on up and was only at the square when he heard a huge explosion. The person from whom they had bought the sweets and newspaper was embroiled in the bombing and was either badly injured or killed.
I was married at the time and living in Balbriggan. A garda came to the door to ask if my daughter, Mary, was home. She was working in the city at the time and had been confused with another girl. I later learned that the other girl, Maureen Shiels, from Coolock, had been caught up in the bombing.
I did not know until that moment that a bomb had gone off in Dublin. It was very traumatic because Mary was not home at the time. However, she arrived shortly afterwards and we were delighted that all was well. Later on that evening, word came from home that my poor aunt had been killed in the bombing. She was on the second floor in Guineys, her place of employment, with her back to the window, when the bomb went off. She suffered horrific injuries because it seems that some of the piping from the outside the building became embedded in her back. She lived for perhaps nine days on life support but never regained consciousness. My mother, brother and sister went to the hospital first to visit and identify her, but she never recognised any of them.
These were people going about their daily lives, doing nothing untoward, and they deserved to be able to do that, to come and go from work. [...]My aunt was buried very quietly.[...] Nobody ever came to say a word about the death or apologise or say how sad they were. My aunt certainly did not deserve to die like that, nor to be ignored in her death, in that it appeared that she was of no importance to anybody.
Mr. Garrett Mussen: I was injured in the Talbot Street explosion, in Boylan's opticians. I was with my parents. [...] My father and I were in the front waiting room when he heard the first explosion go off. Having lived for some time in Belfast before we had moved to Dublin, he and my mother recognised the first explosion as being a bomb. Both of them started to get nervous straightaway, thinking there might be another. My mother told the optician she thought it was a bomb but they told her, "Calm down, you're in Dublin, relax, of course it's not a bomb, it's a car backfiring or whatever." Around that point, the Talbot Street explosion happened very close to the shop. My father and I were blown pretty much clear to the back of the room we were in and reasonably seriously injured.
I was eight months old at the time so I do not recollect any of this and it is second hand. The impact on my life has not been terribly huge because I do not remember any of it. My injuries were fixable. I had spinal injuries at the time and spent some weeks in hospital, but it never had a big impact on my life.
Mr. Noel Hegarty: My name is Noel Hegarty. On 17 May 1974, I was 13 years of age. I was injured in the Talbot Street bombings and was brought to Jervis Street Hospital. As I did not return that night, my father and brother went out to search for me. It was the following day before they found me in Jervis Street Hospital. The first thing I remembered was waking up in hospital with a priest leaning over and anointing me. I blacked out again and, at that stage, I was transferred to the Richmond Hospital where I spent two to three weeks.
Throughout my life I have tried to commit suicide on several occasions and was hospitalised as a result. At the time, the treatment I received was electric shock treatment. I have been on medication on and off through the years. I still suffer from anxiety, depression and also a fear. This has affected me in that I have not been able to work for long periods and have been afraid to go into town. It took me three years before I went back into town. Even to this day, I still get palpitations and experience fear. As a citizen of this State, I demand a public inquiry.
Mr. Anthony Phelan: My name is Anthony Phelan and I am from Waterford. My sister Marie was 20 years of age when she was killed in Talbot Street. I was 13 years old at the time and was going to school.
My sister Marie had been working in Dublin for one year. She was an outgoing and jolly girl who worked in the Civil Service. On 17 May [she was] with some friends and decided to take a shortcut towards Talbot Street[...] Outside Guineys, just past where the car blew up, she was killed. My parents were told that she was unrecognisable. My father was not allowed to see the body. We have relations in Dublin and they informed my father that she could only be recognised by the ring she was wearing.
My mother still suffers from depression as a result of what happened.[...]
Growing up, people would ask me how many children were in the family. I would often say that I had a brother and a sister. If they asked what were they names, I would feel strange saying that my sister was murdered in the 1974 car bombing in Dublin. It is difficult to forget and I would always say that I had a sister. I am also often asked whether anyone was ever caught for the bombing and I would say "No" but that we had suspicions. Even in recent years, it has been difficult to keep it out of one's mind. I visit my sister's grave often, particularly around her anniversary. My father and mother, who are from small farming backgrounds in Waterford, and the rest of us visit the grave as often as possible. I drove up this morning from Waterford, caught the DART into the city and visited the monument at the end of Talbot Street.
Mr. Joe O'Neill: I am Joe O'Neill of O'Neill Shoes of No. 18 Talbot Street.[...] Near closing time on the day of the bombings, I heard the first bomb exploding in Parnell Street. I thought that something had happened in the car park out the back. I walked out of the shop up to the corner to Brendan who sold the newspapers and asked him if some car had gone up in the car park, since I had a car in it. He said that it was in Parnell Street. I walked back to the shop [and] I put my hand on the door to turn the knob. The door went out of my hand and killed Mrs. McKenna on the other side. I was blown back into the shop. A sheet of glass went past me and cut the fixtures and the heels from the stiletto shoes. I was buried in three feet of shoe boxes. I straightened up and lifted my foot. A piece of timber measuring about nine inches by six inches was on fire. There was no shoe or sock on my foot. I lifted my second foot. I had a shoe on it and stamped it around, since I knew that five staff members were down in the basement at that stage.
I walked out of the shop. I could not see, since my eyesight had gone dark. I could not understand why it was so dark. I thought it was winter. I got out to the footpath. I could see bodies on the street. It appeared to me as if a steamroller had come down the street and run over everybody. I looked down at my side and could see what I thought was yellow stuff pouring out of it. I kept going on, heading for Moran's Hotel. I wanted to go there. I was heading towards it when I collapsed between the double lanes of cars going up and down Gardiner Street. A fellow on the street was going home from work. He pulled open the doors of the car and got a man to help. He threw me onto the back seat of the car. He asked me where I wanted to go, and I told him: "The nearest hospital."
We went down along the quays, which were not one-way in those days. I could not get much further. I told him to go to the nearest hospital. He then headed up O'Connell Street towards Jervis Street. Jervis Street was one-way at that time. He said that it was one-way and that he could not go that way. I told him that I would pay the fines, and on he went. We got to the gate of the hospital, and there was a huge crowd outside. However, they would not let me in. He got out of the car and went up to the man in the box, who told him that he had instructions to let no one in. He told the man to come out and see me, saying that he would surely let me in then. He came out and told us to drive in.
They lifted me out of the car and put me on an iron stretcher. There were two or three nuns and three or four nurses. They asked me what had happened in Parnell Street. I said that I did not know. They asked me if I had come from there, and I told them that I was from Talbot Street. She asked me how that could have happened, since the bomb was in Parnell Street. I told her that I did not know, since I had come from Talbot Street. Then the nun said that I was a northerner, and a man said the same. They asked me where I came from. I told them that I came from a village in County Monaghan, which we discussed. I was put into an iron lift. I was not worth a casualty at all. I was put into an iron lift and taken up into a ward. They cleared the beds from all around me. I then started to pass out.
I asked for a drink of water but they would not get it for me. They said they could not give me a drink. They put me onto a bed, rolled me off, came up with a big pair of scissors and cut from the throat down the whole way. Then I conked out and the next thing I could hear was the gas cylinders coming along on a barrel. I did not wake until three o'clock in the morning when Professor Collins came along and said "I will take this man". I did not wake again until Monday morning. When I awoke I thought I had only one leg because I could not find my other leg. I did not realise all my hair had been burned off and my face scorched. They were coming along with big pads to lay on my face. I went back to sleep again for a whole day. They told me they would let me look at the mirror in a couple of days. After a couple of days I looked at the mirror to see what my face was like. I stayed there for two to three weeks.
Ms Bernie McNally: I am a survivor of the Talbot Street bomb and I also sustained serious injuries that day. The injuries I received have been well rehearsed in the media of late. I lost the sight in my eye on 17 May. Cosmetically, it looked bad and, eventually, 24 years later, I had to have the same eye removed. I require treatment on a constant basis and expect to do so for the rest of my life.[...]
I refer to some of the people I came across that day and how it affected their lives. Mae McKenna occupied a flat over O'Neill's shoe shop. She was a sales assistant in Clerys, O'Connell Street. The staff were on strike so Mae was at home. When she heard the first bomb go off on Parnell Street she went to the lower ground floor. I was in the basement, came up and met her on the landing. Mae asked me had I heard a bomb going off and I said I thought it was a bomb. I was 16 years and the nearest I came to hearing a bomb going off was a balloon bursting. I do not make light of it but that was how close I had been to bombs. I had gone to the basement for a pair of sandals for a customer who had come into the shop late that evening and, as I stepped away from Mae, the Talbot Street bomb exploded and Mae was killed instantly. The customer for whom I went to get the sandals never got to try them on because she was also killed. I could not find the customer in the shop in the mayhem afterwards and I had no sight myself. I will never forget how weakly she moaned for a while after but I could not find her. She was found dead the next day.
One of the many unsung heroes of the day was a man called Kevin Roe. He came on the Talbot Street bomb scene and when he saw the devastation and human carnage and that there were no emergency services to take any of us from Talbot Street to hospital, he had the presence of mind to go to Busaras and commandeer a bus there. That bus was loaded to capacity with the injured from Talbot Street. People with very serious injuries were on that bus. I was one of the many people on the bus. It took us to Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital where we were tended to at some stage.
|The Search for Justice
Statement of Dublin/Monaghan Families and Wounded
Adopted in Dublin on Saturday, 19th September, 1998
On Friday, 17th May, 1974, 33 people died and over 250 were injured in what has become known as the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings.
As victims of that outrage we have not been able to find closure ot our suffering and bereavement after 25 years.
Closure will only come once we have been told the truth and nothing but the truth.
Truth will only be established when the British Government and the Irish Government deal openly and honestly with our grievance.
Accordingly, in the context of the new political arrangements evolving within Northern Ireland, and between athe Governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, we, the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan outrage appeal for, and demand, our right to know the truth as to how our loved ones (including a French and Italian citizen) lost their lives and so many of our fellow citizens were maimed.
Only when we know the truth can we find peace of mind and consequently allow all our loved ones to rest in peace.
Basic justice and humanity demands no less.
To this end we have Resolved:
To demand the establishment of a Tribunal of Inquiry into the following matters:(i) The facts, circumstances and causes of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings
(ii) The nature, extent and adequacy of the investigation conducted by the Garda Siochana
(iii) The extent to which their investigation may have been impeded or frustrated
(iv) Any matters connected with or relevant to the establishment of the truth.
Bell, J. Bowyer. (1996) In Dubious Battle: The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1972-1974. Dublin: Poolbeg Press Ltd. [pp.157-158]
"Someone planted the bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in 1972-74 and for both general and specific purpose. The chosen candidates have always been the loyalist paramilitaries, even if some wistfully hoped the IRA might have been responsible, at least for the December 1972 explosions. And in the case of May 1974 the specific involvement of the mid-Ulster UVF can be taken as actual, though not a matter of law. Far more interesting has been the almost universal assumption of most actors and nearly all observers in Ireland that the British in some manner were involved, certainly in 1972 and almost certainly in 1974, whether directly or indirectly, by rogue elements in the field or through special groups operating independently of higher command. The very fact that neither the RUC nor the British army undertook serious investigation is an indicator that the possibility was quite real north of the border, within the security establishment as well as in the Republic."
The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, by Don Mullan; reviewed by Liam O Ruairc
There is plenty of talk about the "lost lives" of the Troubles. But the sharp contrast between the treatment given to the victims of the Omagh bomb with that given to those of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings clearly suggests that there are different categories of victims, "first class victims" as well as "second class victims". Victims of what the media calls the "Troubles" are fundamentally unequal. Some victims are worthy of being remembered, others less. In political terms, there is no such thing as pure "lost lives". It is not a question of "hypocrisy", that the media or the government give a first class treatment to some victims and not to others; it is a question of power. If a given social group has a sufficient degree of control over the media and the State apparatus, it will have the power to define who is a first or second class victim according to its interests. Memory and victimology are not above politics, they are a reminder that individuals are not only unequal in life, but also in death. Don Mullan's book on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is trying to rescue their victims from the official amnesia.
Those who would have the plain tale of events in 1974 have most often suspected that the British in some manner directed the operation for limited political purpose at a time of great tension - a rerun of 1972. And they have suspected that at worst the Irish Government tolerated the exercise if it did not collude in the cover-up. Everyone accepted without much data the fact that the loyalists were the actual perpetrators; in 1972 some felt that those directly involved were in or attached to British intelligence. All the hard data there is is what came from the Garda leak in the Evening Herald in 1973. As for 1974, in twenty years, as a result of the Yorkshire Television investigation, the only convincing hard information that has been uncovered is the UVF mid-Ulster connection. All else related to 1974 is speculation, circumstantial, unproved, and to those who require convincing, unconvincing.
Justice for the Forgotten
British state collusion with loyalist paramilitary organisations has been well documented in several high profile cases from the late eighties such as the murder of the human rights lawyer, Mr. Pat Finucane, and the killing of Raymond McCord.
Justice for the Forgotten believes there is compelling evidence that collusion occurred in the perpetration of many other genuinely appalling atrocities across the island of Ireland including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
British forces 'colluded' in Irish bombingsA former Royal Ulster Constabulary officer has been interviewed by Irish police over claims that the RUC and British intelligence were involved in a bombing campaign which killed 33 people.
The Irish Independent newspaper and the state broadcaster RTE said that the Irish police special branch have set up an investigation into the allegations which emerged last month.[...]
UVF paramilitaries admitted responsibility for the bombings long after the attack but allegations of collusion by RUC and British military intelligence have persisted over the years.
The source of the latest allegations is said to be a former RUC constable.The Gardai inquiry comes after an Irish Sunday newspaper carried an article in which an ex-RUC man alleged that the Dublin and Monaghan attacks had been carried out by the UVF in collusion with members of the RUC, the British Army and the Ulster Defence Regiment.
Comments made by the father of Anna Massey at the public hearing of the Barron Report
A further public inquiry is essential to establish the truth of what happened in the aftermath of my daughter's murder, the murder of 33 others and the injury of hundreds of Irish people on 17 May 1974. I expect a public inquiry to address and answer the following questions: files of the greatest relevance to the bombings compiled by the Department of Justice, the Garda Síochána and, presumably, the intelligence service have been declared missing. Obviously, Mr. Justice Barron did not have access to or view these files, thus rendering his inquiry ignorant of information vital to an assessment of the overall quality of the investigation. These files may contain information as to whether there was any foreknowledge of the impending atrocity; questions relating to the forensic investigation; the quality of the Royal Ulster Constabulary's co-operation with the Garda in the aftermath of the bombings; assessments regarding inter-forces collusion; and the reason suspected persons were not interviewed by the investigators.
I expect that a further public inquiry would be empowered to investigate fully the disappearance of the files. Where and when were they last consulted? Who was responsible for them? Was their guardian asked to explain their disappearance? Were there copies of them and, if so, where?
On the night of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the then Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, appeared on a special television broadcast promising to leave no stone unturned until those responsible were brought to justice, yet the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Garret FitzGerald, recently wrote:
"...it would have been better to have launched much sooner an inquiry of the kind Mr Justice Barron has now undertaken. All who subsequently held political office, myself included, must bear some of the blame for the fact that this did not happen."
Despite Mr. Justice Barron's efforts his investigation was thwarted by lack of access to relevant information both at home and abroad. A further public inquiry with investigative powers must be held to determine the whereabouts of the missing files and to charge the current or future Governments to press for greater access to relevant files in the possession of the British Government.
Comments made by Garrett Mussen at the public hearing of the Barron Report
It is only recently, through linking up with Justice for the Forgotten, that I found out about some of the facts of the case and found it quite shocking. I had presumed it was another loyalist atrocity or whatever, but then the murky stuff started to come out in later years about possible connections to the military in the North. I found that interesting and the whole question as to whether or not there was collusion.
While there are a lot of things the Barron report never quite established because it did not have access to a lot of material and relevant witnesses in the North, the fact the military and the Ministry of Defence chose not to co-operate with Mr. Justice Barron was the biggest scandal. Even today they are colluding. I think it was John Stevens who said that collusion is not just active assistance to terrorists, it is omissions and lack of investigation. Here we had a legal investigation into what was the biggest murder in the Troubles and, for some reason, the British Government and the Ministry of Defence could say to the Irish Government that it would not co-operate and there was not even an outcry about that. I find that amazing.
Comments made by Ms Bernie McNally at the public hearing of the Barron Report
So, there is a great urgency in getting to the truth of what happened in Dublin and Monaghan. We now have Mr. Justice's Barron's report. This has to be the catalyst for a public judicial inquiry. I felt very angry when I read the report. One single sentence on page 106 is highly symbolic of the attitude of the State to the bombings:
The fragments, or debris, that are still in the possession of gardaí were found in an unmarked cupboard in Garda headquarters following an extensive search of the premises for documentary material relating to the bombings.
In other words, fragments of the debris from the greatest atrocity ever committed on the island of Ireland did not even merit a name. They, like the outrage itself, were to be swept under the carpet and covered up.
The Forgotten Bombings
(Link removed as no longer available)
No organisation has ever claimed responsibility and obviously the Provisional Irish Republican Army (pIRA) was initially the prime suspect, but then again why would they take the risk while the outcome of the voting seemed favourable?
Affecting the votes would prove very helpful to the opponents of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (pIRA) and consequently the investigation was focussed on the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
In the course of the primary investigation English accents, English drivers licenses and stolen cars registered to British owners surfaced everywhere. Appeals made by An Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland, to British authorities for information were of little avail. The unwilling, or at least guarded, attitude of the United Kingdom provides a breeding ground for the idea of British involvement in the bombings and tampering with parliamentary proceedings. Involvement of the Secret Air Service (SAS), the elite corps of the British army, is assumed by some, but there's no agreement regarding the degree of involvement. However, we emphasise that there is no evidence linking any organisation or individuals to the explosions Dublin bombings of 1 December 1972.
Wikipedia on responsibility for the bombings
On July 7 1993 Yorkshire Television's First Tuesday programme broadcast Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre, a programme on the bombings in co-operation with a number of retired officers in An Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland. The programme claimed that the bombings were the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force.[..] However, 'Hidden hand' also claimed that loyalist paramilitaries were aided by British security force members. Forensic examination seemed to suggest that the Dublin bombs had been built with some sophistication. Garda officers claimed that the UVF had been assisted by elements in British intelligence. [...]
[The UVF stated that] "the entire operation was from its conception to its successful conclusion, planned and carried out by our volunteers aided by no outside bodies."[...]
[In 2003] the Irish government demanded that the British government hand over official documents relating to the bombings, that were denied to the Barron Inquiry. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, delivered a 16 page letter, but refused to hand over original documentation, claiming security concerns, despite the passage of time. Barron observed, "Correspondence with the Northern Ireland Office undoubtedly produced some useful information; but its value was reduced by the reluctance to make original documents available and the refusal to supply other information on security grounds. While the Inquiry fully understands the position taken by the British Government on these matters, it must be said that the scope of this report is limited as a result." On February 16 2005 The Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights recommended that the Irish Government bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights to force the UK Government to hold a public inquiry into the bombings. In June 2005 the Irish government threatened to bring the British government to the European Court of Justice, to force the release the files on the bombings.
The Barron Report
(Link removed as it is never available.)
4. A finding that members of the security forces in Northern Ireland could have been involved in the bombings is neither fanciful nor absurd, given the number of instances in which similar illegal activity has been proven.
However, the material assessed by the Inquiry is insufficient to suggest that senior members of the security forces in Northern Ireland were in any way involved in the bombings.
5. The loyalist groups who carried out the bombings in Dublin were capable of doing so without help from any section of the security forces in Northern Ireland, though this does not rule out the involvement of individual RUC, UDR or British Army members.
The Monaghan bombing bears all the hallmarks of a standard loyalist operation and required no assistance.
6. It is likely that the farm of James Mitchell at Glenanne played a significant part in the preparation for the attacks. It is also likely that members of the UDR and RUC either participated in, or were aware of those preparations.
7. The possibility that the involvement of such army or police officers was covered-up at a higher level cannot be ruled out; but it is unlikely that any such decision would ever have been committed to writing.
8. There is no evidence that any branch of the security forces knew in advance the bombings were about to take place. This has been reiterated by the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and is accepted by the Inquiry. If they did know, it is unlikely that there would be any official records. Such knowledge would not have been written down; or if it had been, would not have been in any files made available to the Secretary of State. There is evidence the Secretary of State of the day was not fully informed on matters of which he should have been made aware. On that basis, it is equally probable that similarly sensitive information might be withheld from the present holder of that office.
9. The Inquiry believes that within a short time of the bombings taking place, the security forces in Northern Ireland had good intelligence to suggest who was responsible. An example of this could be the unknown information that led British Intelligence sources to tell their Irish Army counterparts that at least two of the bombers had been arrested on 26 May and detained. Unfortunately, the Inquiry has been unable to discover the nature of this and other intelligence available to the security forces in Northern Ireland at that time.
10. A number of those suspected for the bombings were reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and / or RUC Special Branch officers. It is reasonable to assume that exchanges of information took place. It is therefore possible that the assistance provided to the Garda investigation team by the security forces in Northern Ireland was affected by a reluctance to compromise those relationships, in the interests of securing further information in the future. There remains a deep suspicion that the investigation into the bombings was hampered by such factors, but it cannot be put further than that.11. As stated, there are grounds for suspecting that the bombers may have had assistance from members of the security forces. …. Unless further information comes to hand, such involvement must remain a suspicion. It is not proven.
To undertake a thorough investigation and make a report on the following specific matters considered by the Government to be of significant public concern.
In relation to the missing documentation:
The 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings: The truth sold out for vested interests and dirty
As one would expect after such an atrocity a major investigation was launched by the Irish police An Garda Siochana. This investigation very quickly led to the mid-Ulster brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). A number of suspects were uncovered including William Hanna, leader of the UVF in Portadown, William Fulton, Wesley Sommerville, Harris Boyle and Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson, who have all since died. The Irish police also received eyewitness reports, which said that David Alexander Mulholland and Samuel Whitten were the drivers of two of the four bomb cars. Fulton was in charge of the explosives and William Marchant was in charge of the hijackers in Belfast who provided the bomb cars. Very quickly the number of names in the Garda files had risen to 20.
The information was given to the RUC in Belfast but at that point something went wrong. The RUC, although co-operative in the beginning, was apparently not keen to move against the suspects. They were not arrested nor questioned. This information was uncovered by the team of the First Tuesday programme made by Yorkshire TV in 1993. Until then no organisation had claimed responsibility. After the programme was broadcast the UVF suddenly did claim responsibility for the bombings. Did they feel that the evidence against them was too clear to keep up the silence of nearly 20 years? Or was their admission an attempt to stop the speculation? The First Tuesday programme did not set out to prove that the UVF was responsible, it tried to put together evidence, which would implicate British Military Intelligence. The UVF said it had worked alone, without outside help. In this day and age, when evidence of collusion between forces of the crown and the loyalist paramilitaries is clearer then ever before, an unconvincing admission.
British Security Forces Collusion
From the beginning, there have been
suspicions of British intelligence and British security forces
involvement in the planning and execution of the attacks. The loyalist
group who eventually claimed responsibility for the bombings, the UVF
(Ulster Volunteer Force), did not have the ability to have carried out
these bombings unaided. Materials used in the bombings had never been
used by the UVF previously, and no similar bombing action was ever
repeated by the group. In point of fact the coordinated Dublin and
Monaghan bombings bore all of the hallmarks of a highly skilled
UVF had no need of British collusion for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings
THE word 'collusion' was used 18 times on RTE's Drivetime evening news report on Wednesday evening - the first main broadcast news report on the publication of Paddy McEntee's report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. [...] With the balance of the programme so heavily weighed with references to collusion, Mary Wilson posed a question about collusion "between the British authorities and the bombers" it is clear that the perception of the media in Ireland and now probably among the public at large is that there was some form of alliance between the British Government, the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the people who planted three bombs in Dublin and one in Church Square in Monaghan on Friday, May 17, 1974.
The McEntee Report, however, does not support that theory, nor does extensive investigation by the Sunday Independent, which interviewed the leadership of the Ulster Volunteer Force and members of both the British and Irish security services about the bombings.
Mr McEntee points out in his report that the UVF had been bombing targets in the Republic since 1969. In October that year, UVF man Thomas McDowell electrocuted himself while preparing a huge bomb intended to blow up the ESB sub-station at Ballyshannon Co Donegal. McDowell was a quarryman by trade, and an explosives expert - by definition, an expert bomb-maker. Yet, the repeated speculation on RTE and elsewhere since the Dublin/Monaghan bombings became a conspiracy theory story in the Nineties is that the UVF was incapable of making powerful bombs and getting them to go off in unison.
This point was put to the UVF leadership who pointed out that the only skill needed to set bombs off in unison was to set the timers - adapted alarm clocks - to the same time. The UVF even pointed to the make of the alarm clocks, the ubiquitous 'Jock Clock' made by the largest manufacturer of hand-wound alarm clocks, Westclox, formerly the Western Clock Company of Illinois. Nearly every household in Ireland had atleast one such alarm clock at the time.
Every member of the UVF was taught the rudiments of adapting the clocks as timers and manufacturing the basic timer/power unit to detonate explosives.[...]
Wednesday's RTE report, as with others, also failed to mention the context in which the UVF decided to bomb civilian targets in the Republic - as it had already done on several occasions in Dublin and the Border counties.
The UVF's strategy was to attack Dublin during the height of the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) strike aimed at bringing down the power-sharing assembly at Stormont, and also at undermining the proposed 'Council of Ireland' agreed as part of the Sunningdale Agreement in January of that year, which loyalists saw as giving Dublin a role in the running of Northern Ireland.
The UWC strike was successful. And the UVF also succeeded in forcing the then Coalition Government in Dublin to, effectively, turn its back on events in Northern Ireland.
As Mr McEntee observes in the prelude of his report: "The manner in which the Sunningdale process was pushed ahead in the teeth of vehement local opposition greatly inflamed loyalist antipathy towards their own Government and towards the Republic of Ireland. It was unquestionably the major catalyst for the Ulster Workers Council strike in May 1974, and most likely also for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings."
MacEntee Report to be Challenged
Monday, 21st April 2008. Following receipt of legal advice, Justice for the Forgotten has reached a decision to take a High Court challenge against An Taoiseach, Ireland and the Attorney General in relation to aspects of the Commission of Investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which was conducted by Mr. Patrick MacEntee, S.C.
The two main points on which the challenge is being taken are:
* That the Commission of Investigation failed to report on Term 2(ii) of its Terms of Reference ('The man in the Four Courts Hotel') and Justice for the Forgotten has not been informed as to the reason why the Commission failed to report, despite three letters to the Taoiseach’s Department over the past year.
* That Justice for the Forgotten has not been allowed access to the evidence gathered and the archive assembled by the Commission, again despite three unanswered requests to the Taoiseach’s Department, and it is a matter of great concern to us that this evidence may now be locked away for at least the next 30 years.
All-party Dáil motion urges British Government to release Dublin and Monaghan bombings files to independent, international judge (July 2008)
[...] Dáil Éireann:
- notes the interim and final reports of the sub-Committee of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights on the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings and the three related Barron Reports, including the Inquiry into the Bombing of Kay's Tavern, Dundalk, and commends the sub-Committee for its work;
- urges the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to allow access by an independent, international judicial figure to all original documents held by the British Government relating to the atrocities that occurred in this jurisdiction and which were inquired into by Judge Barron, for the purposes of assessing said documents with the aim of assisting in the resolution of these crimes; and
- directs the Clerk of the Dáil to communicate the text of this Resolution, together with copies of the aforementioned reports, to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with a request that the matter be considered by the House of Commons.”
Dublin and Monaghan Families Appeal to Queen (May 2011)
A campaign group has written to the Queen in an attempt to gain access to secret files concerning two bombings in the Republic of Ireland in the 1970s.
Justice For The Forgotten believes the blasts in Dublin and Monaghan were carried out by loyalist paramilitaries with British state collusion.
It comes ahead of the Queen's four-day state visit to the Republic of Ireland.
In its letter, Justice For The Forgotten says the visit is a sign of improving relations between the two islands and peoples but it wants the "momentous occasion" marked by "a genuinely significant gesture of reconciliation".
It claims the files were withheld during an inquiry into the bombings, the greatest loss of life in a single day of the Troubles.
"Without this move, deeply troublesome questions remain unanswered," it wrote.
Dublin-Monaghan bombings: 'no more files' says [Enda] Kenny (May 2011)
The information supplied by the British government on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings is all the relevant information they intend to supply.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny made the announcement to the Dail (Irish parliament) on Tuesday.
He said he did not have the authority to instruct Britain to supply any other files they hold.