Dublin and Monaghan Bombings: Motion (Resumed)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 732 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 181 Next Page Last Page

The following motion was moved by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin on Tuesday, 17 May 2011:

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  The Independent Members of the Technical Group have not been allowed to sign the motion because we are not members of a political party. However, I think Justice for the Forgotten knows it has our support.

I will begin with a quotation, “While these terrible events of 17 May, 1974 endure in the memory of many who witnessed them or were injured by them, I believe it would be invidious to single them out for special official commemoration.” This was the response of the former Taoiseach, Mr. Albert Reynolds, to a question put by the late Independent Deputy Tony Gregory in June 1993, approaching the 20th anniversary of the bombings. In 2004, approaching the 30th anniversary, when speaking on the Barron report, Tony Gregory stated, “We owe it to the families and the memories of those who died to bring closure and finality once and for all to this issue.” He called on the then Government to take the necessary steps to ensure this happened. He supported the group’s preference to pursue an effective human rights investigation into the bombings. As Justice for the Forgotten is now calling on the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, to open the files, in 2004 the question was why the then British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, was not co-operating with the request made. Tony Gregory asked whether the reason was the single worst act of terrorism might have been perpetrated by agents of the British Government and carried out in collusion with members of the British security forces. He also noted the reluctance of the then Irish Government and the reticence of all the established political parties to pursue the issue. In 2011, three years from the 40th anniversary of the bombings, enough is enough. The relatives and victims are owed the truth. The Government and the House must lead the way by insisting on the files being handed over.

Yesterday I stood on Talbot Street and the grief of the relatives was very obvious, their grief compounded by the injustice of not knowing the truth. A headline in one of today’s newspapers reads, “Queen honours those who died in the fight for Irish freedom”. The innocent lives lost in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings will be honoured only when the truth is told.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  I welcome members of Justice for the Forgotten and their families to the Visitors Gallery.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to this important and timely agreed all-party motion which confirms a motion passed in the House on July 10 2008 which was forwarded to the British Parliament for its consideration. It is a disgrace that the British Parliament and the British Government did not see fit to do anything further on the matter. Their inaction shows serious contempt for a neighbouring parliament. To add insult to injury for the families who lost loved ones in these atrocities, the British monarch is visiting the country at the invitation of the President on the anniversary of the bombings at a time when the British Government is [714]continuing to maintain its silence and refusing to open the files on the investigation of this crime. I have written twice to the British Prime Minister asking him to open the files as Justice for the Forgotten has requested, but he has not even acknowledged receipt of my letters. This is another small indication of a lack of seriousness they place on obtaining the truth in this case. It makes the words of the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, on the publication of the Saville inquiry report ring hollow as he seems to welcome the truth in certain cases only.

Last night the Minister only gave half-hearted support to the call made in the motion. It is important to point out that what gives justification to the cause of some who oppose the visit of the Queen and the peace process is the continued refusal of the British Government to answer the very serious charges made in the Barron report and the lingering scent of collusion and British involvement in the State. Let it be, in Mr. Cameron’s own words, that openness and frankness about what happened in the past will make it stronger by doing the right thing now.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  In recent days there has been much talk, in the context of the Queen’s visit, about new beginnings, putting a seal on past conflict, the need for reconciliation and truth and renewed and improved relations with our British neighbours. All of these sentiments are admirable and ones we all share. In that context, it is obviously very positive that there is an agreed all-party motion calling on the British Government to disclose all of the files and information it has available on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, as well as other cross-Border bombings in the early 1970s. Often there is a long way between word and deed. Certainly, it has been a long struggle for the families of the victims of these terrible atrocities to get to the words calling for full disclosure to allow them to have closure and get to the truth. In that context, it is unconscionable that we are not making more public and forthright demands of the British Government, particularly during the visit of the Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, to release the files to allow the truth to come out.

One must wonder a little about the seriousness and commitment of the British Government. Despite all of the fine and noble sentiments expressed in recent days about the need for reconciliation and to put conflict behind us, it refuses point blank to disclose the information sought by the families. It makes one wonder about its motivation. I implore the Irish Government to move not only by way of words in the form of a motion but also to pursue this issue aggressively in a forthright manner by demanding that the British Government disclose the files to let the truth come out and allow the families closure on this matter.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  I take the opportunity to add my voice to those of other Deputies in calling on the British state to release the files for independent scrutiny in order that the families involved can get answers to questions that have tormented them for decades about the speculated collusion of British state forces in what was, as we all know, the single biggest atrocity in the history of the Troubles. Any of us who attended the wreath-laying memorial service yesterday would have been struck and poignantly felt the suffering still being endured by the families to this day. The issue for the House is what more must we do. This is the second all-party motion that the House will pass, which is welcome and historic. However, that there has to be a second all-party motion on the same issue is unfortunate because the first one should have been acted on and the information furnished before now. That is the call we all have to make strenuously.

When this matter was raised in the run-up to the visit of the Queen, the Taoiseach was less than forthcoming in answering or indicating that he would champion this cause with the British Prime Minister. Today and yesterday we heard he would do so. We should wait and see what Mr. Cameron has to state. If it is not enough, the House cannot give up on the issue. This has to be the start of the process.

[715]Fine Gael and the Labour Party were in power when this atrocity was carried out and the investigation at the time was less than enthusiastic. It was lanced quickly and not thorough enough. As a result, we now have a role to play. Some 37 years later the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government has a chance to repair some of the damage in order that there will not have to be a third all-party motion. This is the start of a much more vocal campaign to get justice and continue the campaign which Justice for the Forgotten and the families affected have carried on for decades.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am sharing time with Deputy Seán Kenny.

I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak on this very important issue.

I welcome members of Justice for the Forgotten, who are in the Visitors Gallery again this evening and pay tribute to their long and arduous campaign seeking justice in very difficult circumstances.

Yesterday Justice for the Forgotten marked the 37th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings with a wreath-laying ceremony in Talbot Street, the scene of the worst loyalist bombing in Ireland. The same day the Queen of England laid a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance to honour those Irish men and women who died in 1916, rebelling against the Crown. It was a unique moment.

The Good Friday Agreement and the growing relationship between Britain and Ireland makes now the ideal time to seek to close the page of grief and pain on the worst atrocities committed on the island of Ireland in recent times. It is time for the Government of the United Kingdom to agree to the repeated requests of this House as expressed today in the words of the Dáil motion “to allow access by an independent, international, judicial figure to all original documents held by the British Government relating to the atrocities that occurred in this jurisdiction and which were inquired into by Judge Barron for the purpose of assessing said documents with the aim of assisting in the solution of those crimes”.

I was the Labour Party spokesperson on justice and a member of the joint Oireachtas sub-committee which conducted the public hearings and drew up the reports on Judge Barron’s investigations into the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, the bombing of Kay’s Tavern, Dundalk, in 1975 and the murder of Seamus Ludlow in 1976.

The testimony and witness of the surviving victims and relatives was the most poignant and compelling part of our deliberations. Few members of the sub-committee were left unmoved by the experience. The sense of loss and pain for their loved ones which they experienced 30 years and more after the tragic events was compounded by the insensitive way that many of them were treated by the agents and agencies of the State and by the total failure of this State and successive Governments to vindicate their rights as citizens under the Constitution. They were truly the forgotten victims.

I remember well the early days of the campaign by the appropriately named Justice for the Forgotten. They were treated with the gravest suspicion by the authorities and subjected to close attention and harsh treatment by the Special Branch. They, and those who supported them, were regarded as pariahs and even subversive. For many years the late Tony Gregory and myself were the only public representatives to support the campaign. Now there is full support among public representatives of every political hue in the Oireachtas. It is a rare expression of unanimity and it must be built on.

I welcome the fruitful meeting which took place last week between the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, and a delegation from Justice for the Forgotten. I welcome the commitment made in this House yesterday by the Taoiseach and [716]reiterated by the Minister for Justice and Equality that the request for full disclosure of documents would be raised by the Taoiseach with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Let us be under no illusion that access to the tens of thousands of documents, which were denied to Judge Barron, will be easy. They contain the most highly sensitive classified information relating to a dirty war which spilled over into the Republic with tragic results.

Last month when the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, raised the matter with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, he was told the British Government was not in a position to accede to the request to disclose the content of the files. Speaking on “Morning Ireland” today, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sounded more intent on raising difficulties than exploring ways forward. However, he did not close the door entirely to the relevant files being released by the British Government.

In its fourth and final report in 2007 the Joint Oireachtas sub-committee made its most damning finding. It stated:

This is indeed a damning finding and raises the most serious questions for the British Government.

In 2001 the Irish and British Governments, meeting at Weston Park, agreed to appoint the distinguished Canadian Judge Peter Cory to conduct an investigation into allegations of collusion by the security forces in six specific cases. These were the murders of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, the killing of Robert Hamill, Billy Wright and Lord Justice and Lady Gibson and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

The judge had the power to direct witnesses to attend for interview and the power to compel the delivery of all relevant documentation. Having considered all the confidential documentation, the judge would report to the Government and recommend a public inquiry or other action as appropriate. In effect, the judge recommended a public inquiry into four of the six cases. The Irish Government responded positively and established an inquiry into the two killings which took place along the Border. The Smithwick tribunal of inquiry into the killing of two RUC officers, Breen and Buchanan, is in situ at present.

Indeed when the sub-committee was making its final deliberations, members held a conference call with Judge Cory who explained his role under the Weston Park agreement and indicated his willingness to carry out a similar role if requested by the Irish and British Governments in regard to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. There is clearly a model for moving forward and dealing with the undisclosed files.

The second part of the motion requests that the Barron report and the text of the Dáil resolution be communicated to the British House of Commons for consideration. It is important that the House of Commons is asked to consider and debate the atrocities which were carried out in the Republic in the 1970s. Three years ago the Barron reports were forwarded to the House of Commons but were never debated there. Many of the British Members of Parliament [717]adopted a hostile and negative attitude to the request and were dismissive of the Barron findings despite the fact the motion had been passed unanimously and referred by the Dáil to the House of Commons.

Nevertheless, the findings raise serious questions for the British Government if the British forces in Northern Ireland were engaged in cross-Border acts of aggression, culminating in bombings, shootings and killings, against a friendly country. These issues cannot be ignored.

Yesterday in the Dáil, the leader of Sinn Féin, Deputy Gerry Adams, stated that he was prepared to engage in a truth and reconciliation process in regard to the Northern Ireland conflict if an independent and international truth commission was established. This statement is to be welcomed.

The Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland may at last be the catalyst for bringing about closure to the most recent phase of the tragic history of our two islands allowing all of the people to move on but the Irish and British Governments must act on it.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  I commend Deputy Joe Costello on his fine and thoughtful contribution on this topic. Before I say anything else, I welcome the families of Justice for the Forgotten, who are in the Visitors Gallery listening to this debate.

On 17 May 1974, I was working on the tenth floor of Fitzwilton House beside Leeson Street Bridge on the canal. I saw the explosion take place at South Leinster Street. It took place outside 10 and 11 South Leinster Street — that I knew because my Dad worked there. Luckily, from my own narrow point of view, he was abroad on business at the time and most of the staff in the office building had left because in the insurance business, offices generally closed to the public at approximately 5 p.m. and there were only a few people in the building. However, one person was sucked down by the vacuum caused by the explosion out on the street and broke a leg. Luckily, nobody else was hurt.

It was a very chilling and frightening evening and night in Dublin. I was 23 years of age at the time and was very shaken and frightened, even though I had not been nearby. To have seen the cloud of smoke in the distance and to know other explosions had taken place was quite terrifying, even not being there. I feel a great empathy and sympathy towards the families, particularly for what Deputy Costello described very well as a very long, empty odyssey without knowing what lay behind it. We must reflect on the sadness that occurred for those families and the anxiety of not knowing why it happened and how.

Wisdom teaches us also not to lose sight of what is expressed in the Private Members’ motion, which recalls the motion adopted unanimously on 10 July 2008 and:

That is the basis and foundation of hope and it is core and central. Deputy Gerry Adams referred to the possibility of truth and reconciliation. That is worthy of our reflection and our seeking to bring it about. On a vox pop on television recently, a woman said that her mother [718]had taught the family that there is no future in the past. We can learn from the past but we must build on the future.

We live in the present and English is the only language I know that has the dual dimension of the term “present”, meaning now, in the present moment, and the gift. We speak about birthday presents and Christmas presents. The present is where we live, it is the gift and in that context a gift is something to be respected and cherished with care.

Deputy Seán Conlan: Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  I welcome this motion and the actions of the Taoiseach in raising this matter with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Mr. Cameron should use this opportunity to release all the original files. It is essential for the victims and families of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and other atrocities that the full truth emerges about these crimes, including who carried them out and under whose orders they were carried out. Access to this information is long overdue. The families of the victims have waited patiently for over 37 years for answers to these questions. It is three years since the motion last came before the House. Only when we find out the full truth can closure for the families of the victims be achieved.

Deputy Seán Kenny: Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate and to support the all-party motion. I also welcome the commitment by the Taoiseach to raise the issue of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings with British Prime Minister David Cameron on behalf of Justice for the Forgotten when the British Prime Minister visits Dublin. I welcome the families of Justice for the Forgotten to the House. We cannot forget that 34 people, including an unborn child, were killed on 17 May 1974. This was the greatest loss of life on a single day in the history of the Troubles on this island. The bombing on Talbot Street is commemorated by a monument erected near the junction of Talbot Street and Amiens Street to honour the memory of those killed on that day.

Like previous speakers, the bombing on Talbot Street has a particular relevance for me. The atrocity happened close to where I worked. The bombing occurred at 6 p.m. I heard the sound of the explosion on my way home from work. I used to finish 15 minutes earlier on Fridays and if the explosion happened on another weekday, I could have been in Talbot Street at the time. All of the people killed on that day were ordinary people going about their daily business when the terrorist atrocity was executed. One of the people killed in Talbot Street that day was a man who sold newspapers near the junction of Talbot Street and Gardiner Street. I used to buy an evening newspaper from him on my way home from work. I was struck by the similarities between the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974 and the Canary Wharf bombing in 1996. Both were barbaric acts of urban terrorism, committed by different sets of ruthless people who had no qualms about killing innocent people. One of the people killed at Canary Wharf was also a street newspaper vendor. The rest were going about their daily business. Since the times of these atrocities, we have had the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, which has transformed relationships on this island and between Ireland and Britain, which are based on mutual respect.

My colleague, Deputy Joe Costello, stated that Justice for the Forgotten marked the 37th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings yesterday with a wreath laying ceremony in Talbot Street. On the same day, we had the start of the historic visit of a British monarch to an independent Ireland. The vast majority of the citizens of the State welcome Queen Elizabeth as a visitor to our State in a spirit of friendship and reconciliation. I particularly welcome her tour of Croke Park this afternoon, during which she met players and groups associated with the GAA. The GAA president, Christy Cooney, spoke for everyone when he said the Queen’s visit would result in a further advancement of the Northern Ireland peace process.

[719]It is relevant to refer to the funeral of the slain PSNI constable and GAA player, Ronan Kerr. His funeral cortege was evidence of a new reality in Northern Ireland. Many people are of the opinion that the visit of Queen Elizabeth could have happened ten years ago, as the conditions were favourable for such a visit since the majority of the people of this island voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement. Perhaps the delay was down to the caution and conservatism of the previous Taoiseach.

I deplore the rioting in Dorset Street and the surrounding area. We are told hundreds of rioters clashed with gardaí for almost three hours in the city centre area, throwing fireworks, glass bottles and bricks. A Bus Éireann bus and cars were hit by bricks and wheelie bins were set on fire. Paramedics on duty in the area had to wear helmets for their protection and safety. This behaviour is unacceptable and does not serve any purpose. The Garda Síochána is to be congratulated on its efforts and forbearance in dealing with the situation. It is clear that many families with relatives killed during the Troubles have questions they want answered. Dealing with the legacy of the past is not easy because there is no simple solution or quick fix but it is a challenge we must accept.

Deputy Joe O’Reilly: Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  This debate takes place in a significant week in history of Anglo-Irish relations. The visit of the Queen to this country this week is of enormous significance and it is a major part of the process of reconciliation between our countries and peoples and the people of this island. That is of extraordinary significance. It is a crucial phase of a very important process. It gives a real expression to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It would be naïve to assume this is the end of the process or that we do not have more to do. Nevertheless, it is an enormous milestone on the road.

Among the major remaining issues is that which was aptly addressed in an all-party motion — the three bombs which went off in 1974 in Dublin and, 90 minutes after, the bomb in Monaghan town. Some 33 people lost their lives in that incident, with 100 injured. Seven of those people were from Monaghan. In July 2008 the Dáil unanimously urged the British Government to allow access to documents concerning the incident or any information it had. The Tánaiste recently raised this issue with the British authorities and the Taoiseach is raising the matter with British Prime Minister Cameron today. I put on record the desirability of both those interventions and that the Taoiseach is giving the issue priority today is in many ways an adequate answer to this motion. It is at least an important part of the answer and the response of Prime Minister Cameron will be very significant.

The Dublin and Monaghan bombings have not yet been adequately dealt with but they should be for the sake of the relatives. The pain and suffering remains and it is real for the relatives up to the present. We should address that issue. It is important for Prime Minister Cameron to respond positively to the Taoiseach and indicate the information will be laid out and dealt with. Prime Minister Cameron showed great leadership and vision in publicly apologising after the publication of the Saville report on the Bloody Sunday atrocity. It was a courageous, worthwhile and very important healing step, and a similar gesture on his part with regard to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings would be of enormous significance and importance. It is a necessary part of the process.

Archbishop Eames has made important points on the need for a forum of reconciliation to deal with the angst, hurt and pain on all sides of this equation. Some 3,600 people lost their lives throughout the period in question, which makes it critical that a healing process come about. The South African model has clearly worked in that context but there are other possibilities. We must look for a forum in which this can happen and it will be necessary for all sides to engage in it. Relatives require closure in order to ameliorate their pain. It is necessary to release the documents because of this and there should be full disclosure in that regard.

[720]There have been a number of other atrocities and events in the Republic of Ireland which should be put on the record of this debate. In 1972 there was a bombing at Burgh Quay, where there were 40 injuries; on 1 December 1972 there were two car bombs in Dublin, which killed two people and injured 131; and in 1975 there were 14 injuries and one fatality in another incident. There was also a bombing in Belturbet and near Pettigo. As a representative and native of County Cavan, I make reference to the deaths of Geraldine O’Reilly and Patrick Stanley. The people involved need closure but there has been no closure on the Belturbet bombings either for the two teenagers who lost their lives. We need that closure.

The efforts of the Taoiseach with Prime Minister Cameron will be highly significant, as is this motion. The visit of Queen Elizabeth II is a declaration of good intent and is an enormous step on her part and in the process of reconciliation. The ultimate tribute we can pay to the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, as well as those of Belturbet, Pettigo and everywhere there has been violence and death, is to work daily and every hour that we can to build the peace process and reconciliation within our communities. In particular, we must work to end sectarianism with every opportunity that is presented.

We must build a spirit of community and an infrastructure of peace. That will involve investment in certain areas and positive discrimination towards certain communities and areas. It will also involve many gestures. We all have a responsibility to build the peace, reconciliation and bridges between people. We must facilitate exchanges of peoples across borders and seas, as well as a regular interaction to build a peaceful society in future. There is no greater way to commemorate the victims of violence than that.

We require disclosure by the British Government on the issue and that will be key to the continuous building of the peace process. There should be no avoiding the subject. This call will be carried forward by the Taoiseach’s meeting with Prime Minister Cameron and there will be subsequent diplomatic activity to achieve an outcome. This is the minimum required by relatives. They need a level of disclosure and truth. Allegations around collusion existed right up to the present and it is important that there be open disclosure on this and related issues. Relatives need such a process at a minimum but will also need to see a sense of recognition of their pain, a truthfulness regarding what has happened and the need to be part of a reconciliatory process. Ultimately, relatives want to see justice but the degree to which that can be practically achieved in the context of the time lag and related matters is unclear. In so far as justice can be seen to be achieved, it should come about.

Relatives deserve, at a minimum, apologies and a process of involvement; they are a pre-requisite. Those families which remain in suffering need that level of closure. It would be a great outcome from tonight’s unanimous motion if there is a further step in that direction. Rather than cursing the darkness it is sometimes important to light a candle. Equally, we should recognise a half-full glass rather than one which is half empty. It might be no harm to recognise tonight that we have come on a long journey and achieved a significant amount. We have come a long way in the peace process and there are not many stumbling blocks remaining. This is one but there are only a few more to be scaled in order to rebuild a peace in which we can talk about these events as a distant history.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I will take ten minutes and propose to share ten minutes with Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh, and five minutes each with Deputies Seán Crowe and Martin Ferris.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Is that agreed? Agreed.

[721]Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  I welcome the commitment made yesterday by An Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, arising from the tabling of this motion and the questions from us and others, that he will raise this matter directly with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, when he meets with him today. I look forward to the Taoiseach reporting back to the Dáil on what the British Prime Minister has to say in response. The motion before us, which was proposed by Sinn Féin and unanimously endorsed by the House, reinforces the motion passed in July 2008 and thus gives him a full mandate to ask the British Government to do the right thing. It has been repeatedly been asked to do the right thing but has failed to do so. The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, was reported in the media as citing the supposed legal obstacles and constraints the European Court of Human Rights presents to releasing these files. We do not accept this argument and we expect that Taoiseach will reject the attempt at further procrastination.

The Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974, with their devastating impact, were preceded and succeeded by incidents in which the British state played a direct role in co-ordinating loyalist paramilitaries in the murder of Irish citizens. I will focus on an incident that occurred 20 years ago next Wednesday, 25 May, namely, the assassination of Eddie Fullerton, a Sinn Féin councillor, in my hometown of Buncrana. Eddie Fullerton was an elected representative on Buncrana Town Council and Donegal County Council. It is clear when one examines the circumstances of Eddie’s assassination that the British state, because it got away in 1974 with co-ordinating the deeds of loyalist paramilitaries who acted in cahoots with British military intelligence, continued to act in this fashion throughout the shoot-to-kill era and the collusion of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Sinn Féin councillors and members, human rights lawyers, GAA officials and innocent civilians were murdered as part of a systematic campaign. Before that, British military intelligence armed these paramilitaries to the teeth with weapons from South Africa through their conduit, Brian Nelson. It is an horrific story.

One Deputy, who has since left the Chamber, referred to the actions of Irish republicans in the conflict. The difference is that Irish republicans have accepted responsibility for their role in the conflict and have apologised to innocent victims. The British state has never done that. It has never been open or honest about its role in the conflict, whether direct or indirect. In particular, the withholding of its files denies justice to the families of the victims in Dublin and Monaghan on that day in 1974.

I raise the case of Eddie Fullerton not to distract from the focus of this motion but to embolden and strengthen the families by pointing out that the failure of our Government to hold the British Government to account allowed the continued killing of people in this State. Eddie Fullerton lived in a cul-de-sac in Cockhill Park, a small council estate located one mile from Buncrana town. The amount of intelligence required in that assassination or murder was considerable and could not have been collected solely by loyalist paramilitaries. The killers were able to take over a house located one mile from Eddie’s home, kidnap the daughter of the family and use the family car and a sledge-hammer belonging to the man of the house to carry out their operation. A second car monitored Eddie’s house and when he returned home, two different cars were parked nearby. They knew enough to come around the back of gardens and to use the sledge-hammer on his front door. More importantly, they were familiar with the complex layout of Eddie’s house, which had a number of extensions. They made their way immediately to Eddie’s door. Eddie fought them at the door and tried to defend his wife but was murdered in a calculated and systematic fashion. The people involved clearly had the benefit of considerable intelligence and military experience. This means the British state, probably directed from No. 10 through its intelligence services, ordered the assassination of an elected representative of the people of County Donegal in this Twenty-six Counties State.

[722]The weapons used to kill the nine victims of the 1993 Greysteel massacre and the four workers at Castlerock where revealed by ballistic evidence to have been used in Eddie’s killing. That evidence was already available in 1993 but, incredibly, the Garda did not think it necessary to question the people charged and convicted for those murders. This evidence was discovered by Eddie’s immediate family. For the past 20 years, an entire generation of his family has had to campaign for justice when the facts are staring us in the face. I could say more about this case because it emboldens the families of the Dublin and Monaghan victims. Their experience was visited on others over the past 37 years because our Government failed to hold the British Government to account. If it can get away with the murder of so many people, clearly it will not give a thought to the murder of a public representative.

Irish republicans are part of a positive dynamic. Across this island, 400,000 people support our party and we are moving forward with confidence towards the achievement of a united Ireland. We have stood up to our responsibilities as Irish republicans and we are building relationships. The British state has not done the same and that is our key contention when its Head of State, the Queen of England, comes here on the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the week before the 20th anniversary of Eddie’s killing. It is long overdue that the British state, in the guise of either its Queen or its Prime Minister, accepted responsibility for its role in this conflict and its indirect or direct contribution to the deaths of hundreds of Irish people. Let nobody lecture Irish republicans on moving on and not looking back. Those who lecture us never met their responsibilities. They abandoned the families of their own citizens and elected representatives. These families had to become the investigating body on behalf of the Irish people. That is the biggest disservice to the families who are in the Gallery and the relatives of Eddie Fullerton and others. They have had to do the job of the Garda in the absence of an investigation. That is a damning indictment of the Twenty-six Counties State and successive Governments. They should not lecture us when they failed to meet their responsibilities to their own citizens.

When the Taoiseach meets David Cameron and gets over the diplomatic niceties, he needs to represent the collective voice of the 166 Members of this House and of the Irish people by telling the British Government to accept its responsibility for arming loyalists to the teeth and directing them to the homes of victims, and for the direct involvement of its forces in those murders. It must take responsibility for the part it played in the conflict. Irish republicans have stepped up to the plate and it is time for others to do likewise. That is what moving forward is about. That is maturity, that is a state which deals with the legacy of conflict.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Is cuimhin liom, ainneoin go raibh méóg go leor, lá na buamála. Bhí mé thuas i sléibhte Bhaile Átha Cliath ag an am ag baint móna le mo chlann agus bhí a fhios againn, nuair a chualamar an glór go soiléir, go raibh rud éigin truamhéalach tar éis tarlú. Blianta ina dhiaidh sin, is beag nár gortaíodh mé féin go dona i bpléascadh a rinne buíon mharfach Shasanach i mBaile Átha Cliath. Tháinig mise slán, ach i gcás na n-ionsaithe átáá phlé againn faoi láthair, níor tháinig gach duine slán. Maraíodh agus gortaíodh scóir shibhialtaigh ar na laethanta difriúla atáá phlé againn agus a bhíá phlé ag na tuairiscí a bhí ag lorg na fírinne faoi cad go díreach a tharla. Níl an fhírinne sin tagtha chun solais go fóill.

This motion is ultimately about truth recovery and I welcome the fact that all parties came on board on Monday to support it. The motion demonstrates the value we all place on truth and justice. The victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings are not alone in their quest for the truth.

There have many been other travesties where justice was denied, including the attempt at mass slaughter at the Widow Scallans pub which left a truly brave IRA volunteer, Martin [723]Doherty, dead after he tackled a British-directed death squad on that occasion. I ask the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to make themselves aware of the facts surrounding the execution by British paratroopers of 11 civilians in a two-day period in Ballymurphy in August 1971 prior to those paratroopers moving on to Derry where they gunned down another 14 civilians in January 1972.

The apology from the British Premier, David Cameron, last year for the slaughter of civilians in Derry was extracted from the British Government after 30 years, but as yet no apology has been forthcoming — no truth has been forthcoming — for the many other killings of civilians and non-combatants by British soldiers, RUC officers or their pseudo gangs and proxy killers, which were carried out across this island. It was an official political policy by the British Government for generations to establish, equip and direct pseudo gangs to do their bidding. An integral part of that strategy was to target opponents, insurgents and their supporters and to strike terror in the supposed host community. It was aimed at discrediting opponents, causing chaos, diverting blame, confusing the issues and muddying the waters. It was what is described in the media today as international terrorism.

This pseudo gang strategy was implemented in Ireland, North and South, by the British army in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. General Frank Kitson, who refined this centuries old colonial and imperialist strategy in Kenya not long before he arrived in Ireland in the early 1970s, went on to become aide-de-camp general to the Queen in the early 1980s. He was granted a CBE for his role in Ireland. So much for the Queen being above the actions of her army.

The actions of the UDA, UVF, the Littlejohns and many others on the orders of their shadowy military directors, whether the SAS, MI5, MI6, MRF, Tara, Ulster Resistance, LVF or other flags of convenience, have never been fully probed, except by a few brave souls. Some brave citizens have lost their lives for daring to expose Britain’s dirty war in Ireland, solicitors Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane among them.

There have also been those within this State who have colluded or facilitated the British war machine in Ireland, particularly since 1969. Some have been agents of the Crown, including some gardaí; some have been dupes; others were cheerleaders for the British war in Ireland. Most were ignorant or did not want to know the truth or care to find out the truth, even it they could in the era of censorship.

In that context I place on record our utter rejection of the remarks of Deputy Robert Dowds in the debate in this House last night. Deputy Dowds stated: “In many respects, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings were a response to the deadly activities of Sinn Féin and the IRA in the 1970s”. I utterly reject that claim. It parrots the argument of the perpetrators of the bombings, and Deputy Dowds should withdraw it. At the time of the bombings Sinn Féin was still banned in the Six Counties. Internment without trial was ongoing. If the Deputy cares to examine the history of the conflict he will see clearly the central role of Unionist paramilitaries. The bombings took place in the context of the Unionist campaign against the Sunningdale Executive. Deputy Dowds is harking back to the Fine Gael-Labour Government of the day which tried to blame republicans for the bombings. He obviously hankers back to the regime of Conor Cruise O’Brien, Paddy Donegan and Liam Cosgrave, ably assisted by civil servants such as Peter Berry.

Whose agenda were they following? Who was pulling their strings? I am reminded of the statement by a Minister for Justice of a later era, Nora Owen of Fine Gael, in May 1995 in regard to the inquiry into the Dublin bombings: “The Commissioner is satisfied that the matter has been taken as far as it could go and that no useful purpose could be served by any further inquiries.” We have moved on from Nora Owen’s time.

[724]I salute all those who stood up to the anti-republican agenda of the establishment in this State at that time and who braved the wrath of the Ministers and their servants. My own father was threatened with being put out of his job in the National Museum for daring to speak at a commemorative lecture on 1916. In fact he was doing his job. McCarthyism was alive and well in the 1970s and 1980s in this State, and the witch hunt against republicans in that era contributed nothing to a solution to the conflict. Instead it probably prolonged it.

I hope we have now reached an era of respect which deals with the legacy of the past in an open and frank manner, but I urge, with that in mind, that the Government not proceed with the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 which was published by the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell. It would have grave consequences for truth recovery, particularly in cases of suspected State collusion. Nobody can deny we are in need of new legislation to govern the work of tribunals, especially to reduce costs, but that legislation could be used by future Governments to prevent public inquiries from delivering the truth to the public and to the families of victims of collusion. It is along the lines of the British Inquiries Act, on which it was based, which was introduced to prevent a full public inquiry into the murder of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane.

The Government cannot sign an all-party motion aimed at forcing Britain to reveal the truth and then proceed with legislation which would undermine our demand by giving itself a significant power to cover up such events. The relatives and those representing victims of collusion have long sought full, independent and public inquiries. We must work together to ensure no legislation is introduced that would jeopardise and compromise the independence of future inquiries.

I take this opportunity to salute Justice for the Forgotten, the Pat Finucane Centre and Relatives for Justice for their trojan work over the years in exposing the truth. I wish them well in the future. I hope the families will receive the files from the British Government and learn the full truth of the horrific background to the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan. I urge the Government to restore funding for Justice for the Forgotten to the level it was before the Fianna Fáil Government slashed it and ask that this funding be retained until its work is complete.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Tonight’s motion comes against a backdrop where the families, survivors and friends of Justice for the Forgotten are hoping that a positive signal will come from a banquet in Dublin Castle and that the files relating to their loved ones will finally be released. Last night in this House a speaker from the Labour Party said he believed the bombs detonated in this city and elsewhere in 1974 were in direct response to the IRA. A relative of one of the victims of the bombing in McGurk’s Bar in Belfast sat angrily listening to that speech.

His family were also told by the British and RUC that the IRA were directly responsible for killing his loved one. The false accusations were then used as a propaganda tool against republicans and no investigation was carried out into that atrocity.

  8 o’clock

We now know that loyalists planted that bomb. We also know that, in the 1970s, loyalists did not have the capability or know-how to construct bombs of the type which caused such devastation on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan. We now know that loyalist counter-insurgency gangs were established, armed and directed to targets by elements of the British security set-up. We now know that checkpoints were removed and they were given free passage. We now know that guns and explosives were brought into Ireland by British agents and given to loyalist organisations. We now know that very little happened within loyalist circles of which the British were not aware. Many innocent people [725]with no connection whatsoever to republicanism were killed at the behest of successive British Governments and their securocrats.

I have no doubt that elements of the British security establishment, in conjunction with their political masters, were involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. This State and its political leadership, I suspect, came to the same conclusion. That is the appalling vista behind the closing down of the inquiry into those bombings. I am old enough to remember what happened in the late 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. I remember going into town after one of the bombings to see, in my frustration and helplessness, if there was anything at all I could do to help. Events and experiences such as these shaped my politics. I know that war in all its ugly manifestations destroyed tens of thousands of people’s lives. Terrible events happened throughout that period and people are still trying to deal with loss all over these islands. Why my son, my daughter, my loved one?

I cannot change the past but I have worked with others to try to bring about a better and more peaceful future. Irish Governments have adopted a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” attitude to the activities of Unionist paramilitaries in this State and the direct collusion in such activity by Britain. More than 50 people have been killed in this State by Unionist paramilitaries since the early 1970s, and not a single individual has been held accountable. The European Convention on Human Rights states that all deaths must be investigated. The festering scandal of collusion will not go away and attempts to cover it up or limit the scope of inquiries only serve to confirm its existence. Both Governments must confront these legacy issues and work towards full disclosure. It is to be hoped tonight is a new beginning and the families of the forgotten will see some closure.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  It is important when dealing with the unresolved issues around bombings in this State to bear in mind the context in which they took place. In particular, it can be seen the extent to which the conflict in the North, which obviously then had a massive impact on this side of the Border, was driven by the British state and elements under its control. We are all aware of the reaction to the civil rights movement, which the Unionists, along with loyalists, attempted to destroy through force and repression. That led to the introduction of internment and culminated in the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972. There were other instances of force being used in an attempt to make Nationalists in the Six Counties lie down.

It is clear from what we know of the activities of the British forces in Ireland at the time, through the revelations of Fred Holroyd, Colin Wallace and others, that they were pursuing the type of counter-insurgency campaign in which they had been involved in other conflicts where British colonial authority had been challenged. That strategy led to a litany of events directly involving members of the British forces and pseudo gangs under their control, the Miami Showband killings being just one of those incidents. British strategy at the time also motivated them to become directly involved in this State both through its intelligence agencies and through individuals who have been referred to, such as the Littlejohns. That intervention reached into the ranks of Garda Special Branch, although we are still not fully aware of how high that went. We know that the intelligence ring controlled by Wyman had access to top level intelligence from within the Special Branch and that intelligence was used among other purposes to organise some of the activities engaged in by the Littlejohns. In Dublin, £67,000 was taken in an armed raid of which they were subsequently convicted.

The object of all that was clearly to influence the framing of policy in this State and the bombings of December 1972 were successful in achieving that aim. As anyone familiar with the history of that period will know, the explosions that led to fatalities in Sackville Place coincided with a debate in this House on the proposed new Offences Against the State Bill. It had appeared that the legislation would be defeated until news of the bombing led Fine Gael [726]to change its stance and the party’s abstention in the vote allowed the Bill to pass. If my recollection is correct, Liam Cosgrave crossed the floor of the House to vote with the Government.

The intent of those who had organised the bombing had been realised. If, as many suspect, British intelligence was directly involved in planning the bombing, it marks an unbelievable interference in the workings of another state. Suspicions of that involvement were there from the beginning and the then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, outlined his view in August 1973 that the British services had been involved. What he neglected to mention but was forced to admit later was that he also knew of the fact that the Littlejohns and others had been working for British intelligence within the jurisdiction. Evidence of that emerged soon after the Dublin bombings of December 1972 when John Wyman, an MI6 officer, and his contact within the Special Branch, Patrick Crinnion, were arrested. Crinnion was found to be in possession of confidential documents. While this might have led to the exposure of the entire spy network, the hearings were held in camera, however, and a deal was made which resulted in Crinnion and Wyman being handed over to the British in return for the extradition here of the two Littlejohns.

It would be naive, however, to believe that this marked an end to British intelligence activities of that nature within the State. The bombings of 1974 strongly point to connections between those responsible and the British services and no doubt there continued to be infiltration and intervention in many other aspects of life in this State. That is why it is important, as others have called for during this debate, that we establish a full commission of inquiry to examine all the remaining questions regarding the involvement of the British intelligence services in events such as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. That should be conducted in a spirit of seeking the truth and bringing some solace to the relatives of victims rather than to score political or historical points.

That has been the attitude of the republican movement in its dealing with events in the past. Such an inquiry would require the handing over of files related to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and other events, which the Taoiseach indicated yesterday he would request during his meeting with David Cameron. I also hope any documentary or oral evidence that exists in this jurisdiction relating to these matters will be made available.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Yesterday, as we debated this motion, relatives of those who were killed and injured in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings sat in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery. I am sure that for them each 17 May is a stark reminder of their loss, and for those who were injured it brings back painful memories. However, I am sure that they have many other days when they recall their loss, when they mourn the absent person at a special family event.

As elected representatives of this House, we had the opportunity yesterday and again this evening to show that we are conscious of their loss, that we remember their pain and that all parties represented in this House agreed to send a strong and clear signal to our counterparts in Westminster that the issue of access to files remains to be addressed. I welcome the fact that this is an all-party motion and that there is no contention in this House on the issue.

The Tánaiste met with a delegation from the Justice for the Forgotten group last week and told them that he had raised the issue with the Secretary of State, Mr. Owen Paterson, and with the Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague. As we heard from Foreign Secretary Hague this morning, his Government is happy to discuss this issue. At the Tánaiste’s meeting with the Justice for the Forgotten group, the pain that relatives still feel was evident but so too was their quiet and determined dignity. Their need for answers about what happened to their loved ones was also evident. They said that they could not get those answers on their own. They are [727]right in saying that. Yesterday and today, this House has had the opportunity to show them that they are not on their own. As a Government, we told them we want to help in any way we can and to support their ongoing efforts. I can confirm to the House tonight that the Taoiseach has met with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, in Dublin this evening and has raised this specific matter with him in the course of his discussions.

Yesterday, families gathered to remember those who were killed and injured in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 but also those who were killed in the bombings in Dublin in 1972 and 1973. Speakers in the House yesterday recalled the bombings in Clones, Pettigo and Belturbet. In the course of the violent decades that affected our island and our neighbouring island, more than 3,600 people lost their lives. Many thousands more were injured. Several speakers in the debate last evening recalled that there were victims from all parts of the community.

Many speakers yesterday and today have spoken about the legacy of the troubled history of the people who share this island and those in the neighbouring island. Too many families across these islands mourn the loss of a loved one. Too many bear the physical and emotional scars of the conflict that blighted these islands from criminal terrorist groups for far too long. Speakers yesterday recalled that we need to find a way forward which treats all victims equally. There are many different ways of developing this issue. That has been the case in many parts of the world where different formulas have been found.

The Government commits itself to working with the British Government and with our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Assembly to address this legacy. In the Good Friday Agreement the participants “recognised that victims have a right to remember as well as to contribute to a changed society”. The visit by the Head of State of our nearest neighbour is a sign of that changed society. In debating this motion, this House recognises that, in addition to the responsibility we all have to the future, we have a duty to remember.

Yesterday, on the streets of Dublin we saw violent and destructive conduct displayed by a small group of people who would seek to drag our country back to the dark days of violence that blighted this city and this island for far too long. As elected representatives of the Oireachtas we can reaffirm that we do not wish any other family to suffer that loss. We can remind those who might seek to go back to that dark time that the overwhelming majority of the electorate throughout this island continue to reject that path.

As we move forward to a better future for all who live on this island, let us ensure that as we seek the truth for the families of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings we also address the wider legacy of the past. Let us recommit ourselves in agreeing this all-party motion this evening to making sure that the legacy we leave the next generation is not one of conflict, but one of a shared and brighter future.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  I wish to share time with Deputy Gerry Adams.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  Thirty-seven years ago, 34 people in this State had their lives cut short by loyalist death squads containing members of the Ulster Defence Regiment. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974 resulted in the highest number of casualties in any single day during the conflict. A loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, whose ban had been lifted the previous month by Merlyn Rees, the Labour Secretary of State, subsequently in 1973 claimed responsibility for the bombings. No warnings were given before the bombs exploded. Three bombs exploded in Dublin during rush hour killing 26 people and an unborn child and one exploded in Monaghan 90 minutes later killing seven people. No one has [728]ever been charged with those attacks, which have been described by an Oireachtas committee on justice as an act of international terrorism.

There are many unanswered questions as to how loyalist paramilitary death squads acquired the capacity to carry out such bombings in this jurisdiction. The Barron report stated that there are grounds for suspecting that the bombers may have had assistance from members of the British military establishment. There is still a degree of speculation as to the line up of individuals actually involved in each stage of the preparation, planning and placing of the bombs.

The survivors and families of the deceased have questions which they want answered. They demand answers and, more importantly, they have the right to know the truth. The British Government has in its possession files which could answer those questions. Despite a previous request by this House to release the files and numerous requests by a previous Taoiseach to have the files released and the constant campaign by Justice for the Forgotten, the British Government has refuted these calls. Given the week that is in it and all the talk of reconciliation and moving on it would be the ideal opportunity for the British Government to finally do what is right and release the files.

It is not surprising that the British establishment might not want to own up to its seedy role during the conflict. It might not even wish to have its association with sectarian multiple killers aired publicly. Someone knows who orchestrated, planned and carried out those atrocities. Political posturing and self-interest cannot be an obstacle to moving the situation forward. We all have a responsibility, individually and collectively, to create the circumstances in which the needs of all victims are met.

We have had enough procrastination on this issue. I take on board the comments of the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, on this evening’s meeting between the British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, and the Taoiseach. I also heard the comments earlier today made by Mr. William Hague, that the British Government is willing to discuss the issue. That is not good enough. The time for discussion is over. We need a real and meaningful, forthright engagement, at the highest level of Government, on the matter. Victims, survivors and families demand it. Justice demands it. The files must be released without delay.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Ba mhaith liom an rún seo a mholadh. I welcome Justice for the Forgotten and commend the group on its dedication and determination. I also commend Relatives for Justice and representatives of the Pat Finucane Centre who were in the Gallery last night. Tá sé ráite ag an ngrúpa Justice for the Forgotten gur thug cuairt Bhanríon Shasana seans órga do Rialtas Shasana a chomhaid ar fad a chur ar fáil. I commend the motion to the House.

Hiding the truth of its involvement in human rights abuse is something the British system has done well through scores of conflicts. Currently in London, four survivors of the notorious detention camps operated by the British authorities in Kenya in the 1950s are taking the British Government to court for compensation. An open letter from the Kenya Human Rights Commission declares: “It is a little known fact that during the Mau Mau war in the run-up to Kenyan independence, the then British Government systematically violated human rights and committed war crimes on a vast scale”.

I raise this issue because it is the context for acts of violence in Belfast, Derry, Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk 20 years later, in 1974. Following the violent suppression of the civil rights campaign in the late 1960s and the pogroms against Catholic areas by the Unionist regime, the British Government brought its tactics from Kenya and Aden to this country. It also employed some of the same people. Among them was Brigadier Frank Kitson, who was posted to Belfast. Kitson was the British Army’s foremost expert on counter insurgency. He had served in many of the wars Britain had fought and lost during the 1950s and 1960s, includ[729]ing Malaya, Cyprus, Aden and Kenya. In Kenya, Kitson established pseudo gangs of loyalist Kenyans who carried out actions against ordinary citizens and sought to discredit the Kenyan freedom fighters.

In his book Low Intensity Operations, Kitson sets a context and outlines a template for much of what happened in the following decades in the North and in this State. I commend that book to Deputies. It was as a result of his strategies that British intelligence agencies, working with the RUC, infiltrated loyalist paramilitary groups, including the Ulster Defence Association, which they helped to establish. The British Army set up the UDA and it reorganised the UVF. Collusion between the British State agencies and Unionist death squads was structured, institutionalised and was a matter of British Government policy and administrative practice. It was not an accident.

There are many tragic examples of this, including attacks on Sinn Féin members and family members and the murder of councillor Eddie Fullerton, mar adúirt Pádraig Mac Lochlainn. His murder was just one of these, but perhaps the most infamous is the murder of human rights lawyer, Pat Finucane, who was shot in his home in February 1989. This is how collusion worked and it is the backdrop to the attacks in Dublin and Monaghan. The Glenanne gang, which was responsible for this attack, was a mixture of UVF, RUC and UDR personnel. The independent international panel on collusion found that this gang was responsible for at least 74 murders. This included the Dublin-Monaghan bombs and the bomb attack in December in Dundalk in which two men, Jack Rooney and Hugh Waters, were killed.

As we all know, in 2001 a commission of inquiry, under Mr. Justice Henry Barron, was established by the Irish Government. Ní raibh sé de chumhacht ag an mBreitheamh Barron iachall a chur ar dhaoine fianaise a thabhairt in aghaidh a dtola agus ní raibh sé sásta leis an leibhéal comhoibrithe a fuair séón Ministry of Defence sa Bhreatain. I 1999, chinn an Taoiseach ag an am, Bertie Ahern, ar fhiosrúcháin ar leith a chur ar siúl leis an scéal a fhiosrú. Ach go dtí seo, níl dul chun cinn déanta leis an fhírinne a bhaint amach. Níos mó ná 30 bliain níos moille, tá an fhírinne fós á chuardach.

As people here know, four reports were published and a sub-committee of cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights conducted an extensive examination of the reports. Despite its conclusions and despite the mountain of evidence, the British Government has refused to co-operate with investigations and attempts to get to the truth. Imagine this happened somewhere else. Imagine reading in some of our newspapers that one state had committed such an atrocity against another state, that the government and Parliament of the victim state had brought forward all of the evidence and the other state refused to co-operate and ignored the request from the government and Parliament. I accept there is a responsibility in terms of asserting all the time that this is an independent sovereign Government. It needs to be asserted.

I regret that the Taoiseach did not respond positively to my proposal yesterday that the Irish and British Governments should invite a reputable and independent international body to create an independent international truth commission as part of a viable truth recovery process that would deal with all of the legacy issues. The Government needs to get its act together on how to deal with this issue of the past. It cannot be left to the British Government any more than it can be left to any other combatant force.

Much is being made at this time of the visit by the English Queen. Sinn Féin has set out its position on all of the matters around this. I have also made it clear that we hope some good comes from this visit. However, if the visit is to have a real and lasting significance beyond its important symbolic gestures, the Government must realise that this is but part of a journey. It is a page in a book, not the end of the book. Our country is still partitioned and our people [730]are divided. We need, and the Government needs to lead on this, to end these divisions and to build unity and freedom. We need to continue that journey beyond this week. On Saturday, the Queen will have gone. We need to continue working ahead. We need to write the next chapter of our book and we need to deal with the past as part of that.

Genuine national reconciliation, an inclusive healing process and the closure which victims, victims' families and survivors deserve, demand that all of us must pledge ourselves to tell and to hear the truth about the past. For my part, I will actively encourage republicans to co-operate with such a process. In the meantime, the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, of the bomb in Dundalk and other killings in this State must be supported. That includes the need for the Government to restore funding to the Justice for the Forgotten group.

This morning, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said, “I tend to almost always favour transparency and openness in government, including about the past, but there are legal constraints”. Alas, that is not good enough and the Tánaiste should say so. I welcome the confirmation from the Minister that the Taoiseach has raised this issue with the British Prime Minister. I look forward to Mr. Cameron agreeing to the demand of the Dáil, the Taoiseach and of the families of the Justice for the Forgotten campaign. Níos mó ná 30 bliain níos moille, tá an fhírinne fós caillte. I urge this Dáil to support the motion.

Question put and agreed to.


Last Updated: 08/03/2013 20:59:44 First Page Previous Page Page of 181 Next Page Last Page