McDowell denies Dublin/Monaghan cover-up

The Dublin government has denied that it is trying to cover up the truth about the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, in which 33 civilians died.

The MacEntee report published last week has failed to dispel concerns that the 26 County establishment is trying to hide the truth about the bombings.

It is accepted that British forces assisted the unionist paramilitary UVF in the car bomb attacks, hoping the carnage would erode support for the IRA in the South. But there have been persistent allegations that the bombs may have had at least tacit approval from a weak and fearful administration in Dublin.

The Minister for Justice Michael McDowell told the Dail parliament last week he was “absolutely satisfied” his department had given “all the knowledge in its possession to successive Dail committees and to Mr MacEntee”, the sole member of a recent Commission of Investigation into the bombs.

“It has held nothing back,” he insisted.

A total of 33 people - including a pregnant woman - died and 300 were injured when four car bombs exploded in Dublin and Monaghan. It was the highest death toll on a single day during the conflict.

The two-year Government-commissioned report by Mr MacEntee SC into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974 said that the rapid winding down of the Garda investigations was not the resukt of a policy of collusion.

Mr McDowell accepted there was “every reason to believe that there was involvement at some level, of the security forces in Northern Ireland with some of the people involved in the attacks.”

But he dismissed a call from Sinn Féin’s Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain for a full public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the bombings. He then accused Sinn Féin of withholding information on who planted the Birmingham bombs of November 1974.

Greg O’Neill, lawyer for victims Justice for the Forgotten, representing victims and the bereaved of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, said there had been little examination of specific issues including the winding down of the investigations, the disappearance of documents and the failure to follow up a number of potentially important leads.

“The startling thing that comes out of this is the frank statement that the British government was asked to cooperate but refused to cooperate fully in terms of disclosing information,” he said.

The solicitor said Justice for the Forgotten had spent “several years” trawling through public records office files in London and that the group was aware of the large number of files available on the North of Ireland, police cooperation and dealings with gardai.

“The British government do have information which they have refused to disclose and that’s an indictment of the British government,’’ he said.

Mr O’Neill said that one unpublished section of the MacEntee report, relating to a man who was staying in a Dublin hotel at the time of the attacks, was a term of reference that still needed to be addressed.

“My understanding is that he is an individual originally from County Monaghan who’s had noted and recorded associations with loyalist paramilitaries and people who were identified at least of staying on the fringes of the gang responsible for the bombings and responsible for other sectarian murders.

“Originally the gardai maintained that it was difficult to trace him but it’s been well known to Justice for the Forgotten that this man has been living openly in Dublin for many years and has had ongoing contact with gardai over the years.”

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