A junior Fine Gael Minister bizarrely sought to implicate Sinn Fein in the worst loyalist massacre of the conflict this week.
A group representing survivors and families of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings has called on Minister Patrick O’Donovan to apologise for the comments he made about the loyalist/British atrocity.
In 1993 the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) claimed responsibility for the bombings, and British authorities are understood to have colluded in the plot which resulted in the highest death toll of the conflict.
Thirty-three people, including a pregnant woman at full term, were killed in four explosions, three of which took place in Dublin during rush hour on May 17, 1974. About 90 minutes later a fourth bomb was set off in Monaghan.
But the Fine Gael junior finance minister falsely stated that the IRA had “blown children to smithereens” in the attacks, and that Sinn Fein had associated itself with them.
In a lengthy criticism of Gerry Adams’s party, the Fine Gael junior finance minister condemned Fianna Fail for suggesting it would be open to going into government with Sinn Fein.
He was speaking after Mr Adams was interviewed about a possible prosecution of those IRA Volunteers responsible for the execution of an informer in 1991. When questioned whether he considered the killing as “murder”, Mr Adams described it as a politically-motivated killing, and that he agreed with the “general legitimacy” of the IRA’s armed actions.
In a feverish outburst in response, O’Donovan blamed Mr Adams for every conflict death in the 26 Counties.
“What about the innocent children blown to smithereens indiscriminately in the likes of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings?” he asked.
“That was not done in my name or in the name of any right-minded person. So when I hear senior people of a political party talk about ‘legitimate combatants’, in whose eyes? Who voted for that? I certainly didn’t.”
Margaret Urwin, secretary of the group Justice for the Forgotten, said of the comments: “I could not believe it. It is incredible that a government minister, in this day and age, after all of the publicity, would be so ill-informed as to where responsibility for the greatest loss of life in a single day of the Northern conflict lies.”
Ms Urwin said she had written to him to explain the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and who the perpetrators were. She added that she was confused at Mr O’Donovan’s comments, given the fact that Fine Gael has supported and at times led calls for the British government to release documents relating to the bombings.
“It beggars belief that a junior minister could be so clueless with regard to the history of our country,” he said.
“It is now recognised the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan were carried out by loyalist terror gangs working in collusion with the British security services.
“The Dail has unanimously supported the call for truth and the Justice for the Forgotten campaign. His government is supposed to be pursuing the case directly with the British government.”