Ex-Ministers criticise Barron report; Omagh families appeal

Controversy over the Barron report into the 1974 loyalist bombings of Dublin and Monaghan has continued over the weekend.

The British state has been accused of colluding in the bombings, an accusation which a report by Justice Barron failed to confirm or refute.

A parliamentary committee is now to consider the issue and make a recommendation on whether the demands of the families of the victims for a public inquiry is merited.

Former members of the Dublin government of the day have rejected accusations that their response to the car bomb attacks, which killed 33 civilians, was inadequate.

Former Justice minister Patrick Cooney yesterday became the third minister from the Irish government to contest the report's criticisms which he said were ``without substance''.

The then minister for foreign affairs, Dr Garret FitzGerald, has declared that the judge had reached ``incorrect conclusions'' and Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien, then minister for posts and telegraphs, said last weekend that the judge was ``naïve'' in some of his findings.

Meanwhile, reports have indicated that the Garda police has withheld files which Justice Barron found were inexplicably missing as he investigated the bombings. The British government refused virtually all requestions for access to its security files on the incident.

The files were reported to include details of long-standing operations to infiltrate the IRA, as well as undercover and ``deniable'' Garda operations and contacts with the RUC Special Branch and British Army intelligence.


Meanwhile, the Spanish Government will be approached, in the New Year, to press Bertie Ahern to hold a public inquiry into the Omagh bombing.

Relatives of many of the 31 victims are furious that Irish Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, has dismissed testimony from a suspended Garda detective, who has alleged that vital information was withheld from the RUC, which could have thwarted the Real IRA bombers.

Two Spanish citizens, Rocio Abad and Fernando Blasco, died in the attack, and a further 11 Spanish children were injured.

The Nally Report has been dismissed by grieving relatives, like Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the 1998 blast.

He said yesterday that he and other relatives would lobby the Spanish and American Governments to force Bertie Ahern and Michael McDowell, to order a sworn independent inquiry to probe Garda knowledge of the bombing plan by the `Real IRA'.

``We dismiss this report, because from what the minister says, it just ignores the evidence from Garda Sergeant John White, the handler for the car thief, Pat Dixon, who was asked to steal a car for a `big bomb' in the north that weekend.

``For that to be dismissed, and for the PSNI's Omagh chief investigating officer, Norman Baxter, not to be interviewed by Dermot Nally, or, indeed, that Pat Dixon wasn't questioned, is astounding.

``The inquiry was flawed, and it produced the result the Irish Government and the Garda wanted, but it is totally unacceptable,'' Michael Gallagher said.

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