Dublin and Monaghan Bombings: Motion (Resumed)

The following motion was moved by the Taoiseach on Wednesday, 25 May 2016:
That Dáil Éireann:
recalling the motion it adopted unanimously on 10 July 2008 which:
— noted 'the interim and final reports of the sub-Committee of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights on the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings and the three related Barron reports, including the Inquiry into the Bombing of Kay’s Tavern, Dundalk, and commends the sub-Committee on its work';
— urged 'the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 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 purposes of assessing said documents with the aim of assisting in the resolution of these crimes'; and
— directed 'the Clerk of the Dáil to communicate the text of this Resolution, together with copies of the aforementioned reports, to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with a request that the matter be considered by the House of Commons';
recalling the motion it unanimously adopted on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 which:
— noted 'that the question of obtaining access to information held by the British Government on the bombings has been pursued for many years';
— requested ‘the Government to continue to raise the matter with the British Government and to press it to comply with the request of Dáil Éireann and reaffirms the support of Members on all sides of this House'; and
— acknowledged 'that the co-operation being sought is taking place in the context of transformed relationships on this island and between Ireland and Britain based on mutual respect, on partnership and on friendship';
notes that Tuesday, 17 May 2016 marked the forty-second anniversary of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings;
and requests the Government to continue to raise the matter with the British Government, and directs the Ceann Comhairle, the Clerk and the chairs of relevant committees when appointed to do likewise with their respective British counterparts, in order to actively pursue the implementation of the 2008 and 2011 all party motions.

The final point I wish to make is that after 42 years, three all-party Dáil motions and the Barron and McEntee reports, the British Government still refuses to make files and papers available. It has also refused to allow an independent international judicial figure to consider the files. At this stage, the families are entitled to know the truth and have answers and justice. The Government must make this issue an absolute priority and ensure it is solved sooner rather than later. It must be taken seriously and be a priority for the Government. We must be proactive and canvass international support, particularly from the US, to ensure these files and papers can be made available and we can know exactly what happened. The families should be able to get answers to their questions. The other issue that must be raised by the Government is the referral of these matters to the European Court of Human Rights. We are at that stage now, as we have gone for 42 years without any answers. I want to see the Government taking the matter seriously and solving it once and for all by canvassing international support and taking it to the European courts.

There are approximately 50 minutes left to debate the motion, and three Deputies have indicated their wish to contribute.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Deputy David Stanton on this appointment as a Minister of State, as it is a well-deserved reward. I wish him well in his work. I commend the work of Justice for the Forgotten, which has been a strong and effective advocate on behalf of many victims and families of victims. Over the years I have worked closely with Margaret Urwin and her colleagues, who have been very effective representatives and advocates for families of the bereaved. We know very well that the process of trying to get justice for many families has been absolutely frustrating and painful and the result has been totally unacceptable.

For our country to truly move forward, we must put in place mechanisms for dealing with the legacies of the past. Victims and survivors of atrocities, whether in the North or South, have a basic entitlement to the truth. The most evil of crimes, including large-scale murder, were witnessed on this island, perpetrated by paramilitary organisations. Some British State forces were also involved in the most heinous of crimes. For the families concerned, the truth must be forthcoming.

I join other Members of this House in calling again on the British Government to remove all obstacles to full and proper investigations into the bombings and murder of innocent people in Monaghan and Dublin in May 1974. Over the past number of years, I have had meetings with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Theresa Villiers, and her predecessors, and also with the British Ambassador.

I raised each time with them the need for the British Government to respond positively to the unanimous call of Dáil Éireann for British co-operation with a full and proper investigation of the Monaghan and Dublin bombings. I took the opportunity consistently in this House to raise these issues and to raise the total non-response by the British Government to the unanimous motions passed here in May 2008 and in 2001 regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the need for an eminent legal person to have access to the papers and files pertaining to them.

We are all aware that in the period known as the Troubles there were many days of terrible anguish, suffering and murder on this island, caused by paramilitary groups, some masquerading as so-called republicans and some masquerading as so-called loyalists. Unfortunately, many people were murdered through the collusion of the British state forces as well. I think of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and of the bombing in Belturbet in my own county in December 1972. Again, we have the British Government trotting out the lame excuse of national security considerations in regard to the details that might become available to the institutions that were proposed in the Stormont House Agreement more than 12 months ago. It is essential that the methods proposed in that agreement would be advanced and that the British Government would co-operate fully and not put a road block in the way of those institutions, which could be so beneficial if they were established.

As has been mentioned many times in this House earlier today, we are all aware that unfortunately in May 1974 some 34 people were murdered in Dublin and Monaghan and 300 people injured. Nobody has been brought to justice for this. Those atrocities resulted in the highest number of casualties on any one day during that difficult era commonly referred to as the Troubles. The UVF, a loyalist paramilitary group, claimed responsibility for the bombings, but there are credible allegations that elements of the British security forces colluded with the UVF in those bombings. There have been many incidences in which nobody was brought to justice for horrific crimes.

It is important that we constantly remind ourselves of the very good work carried out by Anne Cadwallader in her publication Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland, in which she refers to 120 murders committed by loyalist paramilitaries and the clear evidence that some of them were armed from UDR depots. Only one person of those 120 had an association with a paramilitary group; one person was a member or was associated with the IRA at that time. The rest were all innocent people, involved in the GAA, the SDLP and other general community groups. They were murdered by loyalists and in many instances those loyalists were armed from UDR depots. It is appalling that no progress has been made in bringing about justice and having a thorough, necessary and genuine investigation into the murders. I also want to quote today, as I did previously, another extract from Anne Cadwallader's book.

In between the Dublin Bombings of 1st December 1972 and the 20th January, 1973, Fermanagh-based members of the UDR and UVF carried out three bombings within an hour - Clones (County Monaghan) Belturbet (County Cavan) and Pettigo (County Donegal) - all on 28th December 1972. Two teenagers, Geraldine O'Reilly (aged fifteen) [from Belturbet] and Paddy Stanley (aged sixteen) [from Clara, County Offaly], were killed in Belturbet.

I am very glad that the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality is here. She will recall that on numerous occasions I have raised the case of the Belturbet bombings and the need for a full investigation into the horrific murder of two teenagers on that fateful December day. We need to have the co-operation of the Northern Ireland authorities. People on the street will talk about who was responsible for those murders. That is no good to the families of those two young teenagers who were murdered on that night. Again, the Government, through An Taoiseach and at Government level, must insist that the British Government respond magnanimously and positively to the unanimous call of this House in May 2008, in May 2011 and again today. It is well beyond time that the victims get the truth, which is the least they deserve. Unfortunately, that has not been forthcoming.

Debate adjourned.