Bombings inquest concludes

The inquest into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings has concluded with relatives of the victims calling again for a public inquiry just over 30 years since the blasts.

The 10-member jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by person or persons unknown on the 34 victims - including an unborn child - of the four bombs.

No-one has been brought to justice over the bombs, which killed and injured people in Dublin’s Parnell Street, Talbot Street and South Leinster Street and in Monaghan town on May 17, 1974.

The jury drew no conclusion on who carried out the attacks, which are widely believed to have been carried out by unionist paramilitaries in collusion with British armed forces.

But it said: “As this inquest does not have extraterritorial jurisdiction, such matters may need to be addressed in another forum and we would ask the coroner to forward the full transcript of the evidence to An Taoiseach for the information of the Government and that the Government in turn would consider forwarding the complete transcript to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.”

The Dublin government reopened the inquest into the bombings just three weeks ago to formally acknowledge how the 34 people died, as it was originally closed within two weeks of the bombings.

Dublic City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said it was a mass killing of international importance, and as well as the 34 killed another 300 people were injured.

“There was an unconscionable delay completing the inquest,” Dr Farrell said, as he apologised to the families for the 30-year-wait for the inquest verdict.

He thanked the jury, the Justice For the Forgotten solicitor Greg O’Neill and counsel representing the families for their efforts in seeking justice.

“Your quest for the truth in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings has reached heroic proportions,” he told the families.

As the inquest was held in Dublin it had no power to demand witnesses from the North.

Outside the court, the families of the victims called on the Dublin government to establish a public inquiry into the atrocities and said it was “a disgrace” that the PSNI police did not take part in the inquest.

Bernie McNally, speaking for the relatives, said: “There are issues for another forum. Many questions have been answered and the loss of each life was solemnly acknowledged here.

“This issue now goes back to the Dail and the Government finally for action. It has taken 30 long years and the Government must act now,” the chairwoman of Justice For The Forgotten added.

She said: “Throughout the inquest witnesses were willing to attend and give evidence of collusion. They were not called to give that evidence because of the legal scope of the inquest.

“The Northern Ireland authority went into hiding.

“They refused to attend the inquest even to confirm the basic facts about the bomb vehicles or the investigation they conducted in 1974,” she added.

“I think it is outrageous that they didn’t take part in this - we are in a time of peace and reconciliation now.

“It is Bertie Ahern’s place to put pressure on them to take part.”

Michelle O`Brien, whose mother Anne Byrne was killed by the Talbot Street bomb, said she was glad the inquest had taken pace.

She added: “I’m very emotional. I`m glad they have taken place but it shouldn`t have taken thirty years for it to have been done.

“It has raised an awful lot more questions than it has actually answered so I’d like to call on the government for a full public inquiry.”

* A man who survived the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and whose father died in the attack launched a book about his ordeal and later experiences today.

The book by Edward O’Neill and journalist Barry J Whyte, entitled Two Little Boys: An Account of the Dublin & Monaghan Bombings and their Aftermath, was launched in Dublin by journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne today.

Mr O’Neill was almost five when his father, Edward snr, died and he, along with his older brother Billy, suffered horrific injuries in the Parnell Street car-bomb explosion in Dublin.

His book describes how his family survived the aftermath of the atrocity, coped with the loss of their father, and how they sought justice for the victims and survivors.

Michael Mansfield QC, who wrote the foreword, described the publication as a “testament to how strength born out of adversity can provide hope and force change”.

Two Little Boys: An Account of the Dublin & Monaghan Bombings and their Aftermath is published by Currach Press.

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