Gardai suspected British role in Dublin/Monaghan bombings

The Garda police in the 26 Counties suspected their northern counterparts were involved with unionist death squads in perpetrating the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974.

Mr John P McMahon, a retired deputy Garda commissioner and chief superintendent of Cavan/Monaghan at the time of the bombings, said gardai suspected that the unionist paralimitary UVF was assisted by members of security forces in the North in constructing the bombs.

When asked by counsel for the Justice for the Forgotten group if gardai had identified a particular organisation, Mr McMahon said: “Yes, we believed it was the UVF in Portadown.”

Mr Eoin McGonigal SC, for the O’Brien and O’Neill families and Mr Frank Massey, asked if the Garda had a view of the capacity of the UVF to construct the bombs used.

“Doubts were certainly entertained as to their capacity to do it,” Mr McMahon said. The explosive used in the bombs, ANFO, was more commonly used by the IRA, and the UVF was not thought to have the expertise to make such bombs, he said.

When asked by Mr McGonigal if it was the belief within the Garda that the bomb used in Monaghan was constructed on a farm in Portadown by the UVF who may have been assisted by the security forces, Mr McMahon replied: “That has never been ruled out. It remains a possibility.”

Relations between the northern and southern authorities were “fragile and sensitive” at the time, he said.

“The view, in the south, was that information forthcoming about loyalist paramilitaries was not as fulsome as information about the Provisional IRA.”

Although gardai had suspicions as to the individuals involved in the bombings, there was not sufficient evidence, as far as he was aware, to support a prosecution.

“Identification was a problem. It would have been very important to have an identification parade but that was not feasible at the time because of political and other considerations,” he said.

A 10-minute tape, showing the destruction on the streets of Dublin, was played at the inquest last week. Broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne also appeared before the inquest to describe the disturbing scenes in Talbot Street in the minutes after the bomb exploded there.

Subsequently, , the former head of the State Forensic Laboratory has said that the car bomb that killed 11 people in Parnell Street was consistent with bombs used by the IRA at the time.

British forces have been accused of supplying or using seized IRA material for the manufacture of the bombs which exploded in Dublin and Monaghan.

Dr James Donovan has told the inquests on the deaths of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that forensic samples brought from the scene at Parnell Street contained explosives commonly used by the IRA.

However he said the bomb used could have been a copy of the IRA devices.

* A report into various atrocities which took place over 30 years ago will be published at the beginning of next month, it has been confirmed.

Mr Justice Henry Barron is due to report on the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 as well as many other pre-1974 bombings and the murders of Brid Carr in 1971, Oliver Boyce and Brid Porter. He will then publish a separate report on the murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth in 1976.

The third report on later cases, including the Dundalk bombing of 1975 and the Castleblayney bombing, may be finished by the end of the year.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News