Today is the 30th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the worst single day of the recent conflict in Ireland, and there have been fresh appeals for a probe of the involvement of the British Crown forces.


Thirty-four people died on Talbot Street, Parnell Street, and Nassau Street in Dublin, and in Monaghan town, on May 17th, 1974.

The Justice for the Forgotten group, which includes most of those injured and bereaved in the attacks, called on the Dublin government to put more pressure on the British government to co-operate with a public inquiry into the bombings.

Speaking at a memorial service on Dublin’s Talbot Street, chairwoman for the campaign Bernie McNally said that the inquiry had been sidelined for too long.

“The Irish Government have got to carry out their duty in a responsible way and pressurise Tony Blair to conform,” said Ms McNally, a survivor of the bombings.

In her address to the assembled crowd - comprising survivors, family members of the deceased, and trade unionists - Ms McNally labelled Tony Blair a “hypocrite” as he claims to be wiping out terrorism, while he ignores the plight of those affected by the bombings.

Wreaths were laid at the memorial statue, to the music of a lone piper.

Wary of the public resentment at the failure to hold a full international inquiry into the attacks, the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, fielded questions from the press and members of the campaign.

He admitted that it was hard to believe that the British had no information on the attacks, which is widely believed to have involved members of the British security forces.

“We have done substantial work over the last five years and we have to keep at it,” Mr Ahern said. “We could be here having an inquiry but 49 of the top 50 people we want couldn’t come, so we wouldn’t actually achieve anything”.

Yesterday, the President, Mrs McAleese, officially dedicated a memorial pillar to the seven people killed in the bombing in Monaghan town.

The 20-foot high bronze and sandstone sculpture was designed by Dublin artist Ciaran O Cearnaigh.

The dedication ceremony was attended by a crowd of almost 2,000 people, including relatives of the Dublin and Monaghan victims.

The names of the victims of not only the 1974 bombings, but also the Dublin bombings of 1972 and loyalist attacks on towns along the Border in the same period, were read out.

The stories of all those affected by the blitz-like attacks were remembered today in media coverage of the events.

The family of Anne Byrne, a Donaghmede housewife, did not realise how many lives had been affected by the attacks until they attended a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the bombings.

Mrs Byrne, aged 35, was killed on Talbot Street while on a shopping trip.

Her daughter Michelle O’Brien remembers hearing the bombs going off and being told by a neighbour that they sounded like gas explosions.

“Our father tried very hard to shelter us from what happened, so it wasn’t until the 25th anniversary that we realised that we weren’t the only ones affected,” she said.

“My father always found it too hard to talk about my mother’s death. It’s still tough.

“I remember that she loved her home - we’d only moved there two years earlier and she was just like any other mother.”

Edward John O’Neill, a 39-year-old self-employed decorator, was with two sons were on Parnell Street when the first no-warning bomb exploded.

Edward junior, now aged 34, remembers his father instinctively turning to shield the boys, allowing his own body to take the full force of the blast.

Mr O’Neill died at the scene, while the children both suffered serious injuries.

Three months after the attack, Mrs O’Neill gave birth to a still-born daughter, named Baby Martha, who was buried alongside her father.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghin O Caolain said the dignity of the survivors and the bereaved was an inspiration.

“Sadly, 30 years on, the British government has yet to admit any responsibility for the bombings. It continues to withhold information on the role of its forces in the atrocity. It treated the inquiry of Justice Barron with contempt.

“The surviving members of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition Government of 1974 owe an explanation to the Irish people on why they turned a blind eye to the involvement of a foreign government in the worst bombings of the conflict which were intended to kill as many civilians as possible.

“Members of successive governments also need to answer that question.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News