Call for bombings inquiry to be abandoned

Three families of those killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings have demanded that the newly opened parliamentary inquiry into the atrocities be abandoned.

As victims and relatives of those killed in the bombings appeared before the committee in Dublin ito plead for a public inquiry, another group yesterday dismissed the hearings as a waste of time.

The inquiry, which is expected to last three months, is considering Justice Henry Barron's report into the bombings, published last month.

Barron found evidence of collusion by British forces into the bombings, which were carried out by the loyalist paramilitary UVF. However, his inquiry was hindered by a lack of co-operation by the British authorities.

Members of the Justice for the Forgotten group took turns to stand before the committee and describe the scenes they faced on May 17 1974 and the horrific circumstances they have had to live with for the past 30 years.

One of the victims told how he was pronounced dead in Jervis Street Hospital and his body stored in the mortuary before staff realised he was alive, and rushed him to theatre for life-saving surgery.

Mr Byrne was 14 when he was caught up in the bomb at Parnell Street on May 17th, 1974. He sustained serious head injuries. ``I was put in a vault and it seems I woke up,'' said Mr Byrne. ``They had it in the papers the next day that I was dead.''

Other victims told horrific and distressing accounts of the carnage they experienced.

Lawyer Desmond Doherty, acting on behalf of three of the families, said his clients had suffered enough. He called for the hearing to be abandoned and a full public inquiry to be launched immediately.

He said the families should not have to come forward to the hearing to describe their pain and suffering.

``Everybody knows how they have been maimed. These bombings happened in 1974, not last week,'' Mr Doherty said.

``This is not a trivial investigation. It is an inquiry into matters of life and death and Irish state accountability.''

A statement was read to the committee yesterday on behalf of the three families who objected.

``The proposed scheme of events is insulting and suspicious and at its best, the attempt to settle these so-called hearings is naive and foolish,'' it read.

``We have tragically got used to being ignored, demonised and criticised by all organs of the state for the last 30 years and in effect we have been marginalised. We have suffered enough. If this committee by now does not know who we are and how we have suffered then you should resign from your position immediately.''

The statement went on to say the families were sick of describing their experiences, which had now become a matter of undeniable fact.

``We have been sucked into a vortex of civil service, governmental and political bureaucracy and red tape,'' it read.

``Our suffering has been replaced by rules, regulations, com-mittees and sub-committees. We have been lost in this process.''

The statement called for the three-month hearing to be abandoned and for a public inquiry to be opened immediately.

Committee chairman Sean Ardagh said he would respond to the application by next Tuesday.

Earlier, counsel for Justice for the Forgotten, said Judge Barron's report was a ``ringing endorsement'' for a public inquiry.

He said that although it addressed the issues in a superficial way, in that it contained detail and comment on most aspects of the bombings, it did not establish the truth.

``As a report it is devastating in the extent of failures it reveals,'' counsel said.

``The conclusions of the judge cannot be compared to those which would be realised by a full public inquiry.

``It did not establish why those omissions and failures occurred, nor did it establish who should take responsibility.''

Alice O'Brien, who lost her sister, brother-in-law and their two children in the Dublin bombing, said the government of the day had done nothing and a subsequent Garda investigation had come to nothing.

``The door has been shut in our faces many times and we hope that this is at last an opening,'' she said.

The Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, is to be invited to appear before the parliamentary subcommittee to explain why he was not more insistent with the British and northern authorities when they refused Mr Justice Barron access to files on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings of 1974.

A number of Cabinet ministers at the time of the bombings have also been invited to appear before the committeee. These include Mr Paddy Cooney, Dr Garret FitzGerald, Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien and Mr Justin Keating.

Paul Murphy, British Direct Ruler in Ireland. has also been invited to appear as has a number of his predecessors, including Peter Mandelson and John Reid. Hugh Orde, chief constable of the PSNI police, has also been asked to attend.

But the former taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, has refused an invitation to attend meetings of the sub-committee. He wrote on Monday saying that he had retired from public life in 1981.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News