Victims of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings said this week they are suing the Dublin government because it has failed to release part of an investigation into the single most devastating attack in the history of the conflict.
The Justice for the Forgotten pressure group has spent 12 years hoping to identify who was to blame for detonating four car bombs on May 17, 1974. The nearly simultaneous blasts -- three in the center of Dublin, the fourth outside a pub in the border town of Monaghan -- killed 33 people.
The unionist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility, but it is widely believed that government agents played a role. Nobody was ever charged in relation to the attacks.
Last year 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern published an investigator’s report into the attack. It failed to confirm or deny the allegations of state collusion in the bombings, chiefly criticising what is said were faults i the Garda police investigation.
At the time, Ahern said some findings could not be published for confidential legal reasons, prompting suggestions of a cover-up.
Justice for the Forgotten members said this week they had written three times to Ahern seeking an explanation but had received no reply -- and so would sue him in Dublin’s High Court.
The lawsuit seeks an explanation for why the government did not publish all the findings provided by the investigator, lawyer Patrick MacEntee. It also seeks full access to MacEntee’s evidence archive.
“We have been advised that these failures constitute an injustice to the deceased, the injured and their families under the European Convention of Human Rights,” Justice for the Forgotten said in a statement.
Margaret Urwin, secretary of Justice for the Forgotten, said the group specifically wanted to discover MacEntee’s conclusions about a man who had been staying at a Dublin hotel at the time of the attack. That man was allegedly linked to a senior UVF man behind the attack.
“We don’t know the extent of his involvement. It may have been peripheral,” Urwin said. “But not only did the MacEntee Inquiry fail to report on it, it failed to explain why it didn’t report on it.”
The 1974 bombings came amid growing support for the IRA in the 26 Counties, which rapidly faded in the bloody aftermath of the attack.
MacEntee’s report found that it was impossible, decades after the bombings, to determine what went wrong in the police investigation -- chiefly because so many files had disappeared.
Speaking about the case yesterday, Bertie Ahern said some of the information given to the McEntee Commission was provided on condition that “it would never be released”.
Comenting on the High Court challenge, Bertie Ahern said that some of the information received by it was .
“The Attorney General ... and the legal representatives will just have to look at the case.”
Asked about the claim from Justice for the Forgotten that his department had not responded to three letters seeking certain documents and clarification, Mr Ahern said it was a legal issue.