Dublin and Monaghan Bombings: Motion

I move:

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."

I thank all the party leaders for agreeing this motion and welcome their participation in the debate. I welcome the representatives of Justice for the Forgotten who are here as visitors today. I commend them on their tireless efforts in seeking truth and justice for the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The date Tuesday, 17 May marked the forty-second anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombing. Some 42 long years have passed for families affected by this atrocity. There were 34 lives lost and a further 300 injured, the highest number of casualties on any single day during the Troubles, with lives blown apart and shattered on that terrible Friday evening. I express again on behalf of the Government our condolences to all of the families of those who were killed and to those injured in these bombings. I know the people directly caught in these tragic events and their families have had to bear great personal loss and grief over that time. Despite the passage of time, I know the resulting pain and suffering remains with them to this day. They still mourn loved ones, they still bear the scars of injuries sustained and they still quest to know what happened.

I was honoured and privileged to speak at the fortieth anniversary of the bombings in Talbot Street in 2014, when I assured those present that those they loved and who died on that day will never be forgotten. We will do all we can to make sure they will have the justice that is their right and that their loved ones so rightly demand for them. I remain committed to helping the families get to the truth behind what happened on that terrible day. Today's motion reaffirms the shared will and determination of the Thirty-second Dáil to secure progress on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. It also renews the all-party mandate from the House to the Government to actively pursue the matter with the British Government and to seek the implementation of the 2008 and 2011 all-party motions. The Government is strongly committed to doing that and this is reflected in the new programme for Government.

I also acknowledge the work of the Barron inquiry, the Oireachtas joint sub-committee that examined the Barron report and the work of the commission of investigation under Mr. Patrick McEntee, SC. Over the years, each inquiry has revealed more and progressed our understanding of what happened and brought us to the important point now where there is strong all-party consensus on what needs to be done to establish the full record. I have raised the Dublin-Monaghan bombings with British Prime Minister Cameron on a number of occasions. In doing so, I have emphasised the Government's continued support for the motions of this House, calling for access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade also continues to raise the issue with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

I met a number of the families and survivors of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings in Government Buildings in July 2013 and heard at first hand how their lives have been affected by the bombing. I have been deeply moved by their stories and the impact of these awful events on so many people who had simply been going about their normal business on that day. I met Ms Margaret Urwin of Justice for the Forgotten, who I commend on her activities, last year when we had some further discussions on the lack of response of the British Government to our repeated requests on this issue.

This is the third all-party motion on the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and follows those of 2008 and 2011, which call on the British Government to allow access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents in their possession relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. In July 2008, all political parties co-operated to ensure the passage of an all-party motion endorsing the Barron reports. The motion calls on the British Government to release all original documents. A further all-party motion was agreed in May 2011. This endorsed the 2008 motion and again requested the Irish Government to continue to raise the matter with the British Government. The Government has worked consistently to implement the previous all-party motions. The full efforts and engagement of the new Government will be devoted to seeking and supporting conditions that would realise the implementation of the Dáil motions at the earliest opportunity.

Access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents related to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings would bring substantial progress to the investigation of the atrocity so far. It would give the families of victims and the survivors the surety at least of transparency and full disclosure. Without that, those affected understandably cannot come to terms with the suffering inflicted on them. I firmly believe that cases, such as the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, must be adequately addressed if we are to achieve a genuinely reconciled society. Successive Irish Governments, in our ongoing bilateral relations with the UK and through the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, have consistently raised with the British Government the obligation to ensure effective investigations of such cases, including in instances of alleged collusion. Many families continue to deal not only with the awful pain of losing a loved one, but also with the struggle for answers decades after these traumatic events. That is why addressing the needs of the victims and survivors is at the core of the Government's approach to dealing with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. The establishment of a new comprehensive framework for dealing with the past, as envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement, is a priority reflected in the programme for Government.

The Government believes that the legacy institutions agreed under the Stormont House Agreement offer the best hope of helping the thousands of families impacted by the Troubles. While significant progress was made, final agreement could not be reached on legacy issues in the talks that led to the Fresh Start agreement last November. The Government is committed to building on the progress that was achieved in those talks to establish the new institutional framework on the past. Over the past number of months, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and his officials have met a range of victims' groups from across the affected communities, to hear their perspectives on how best to progress the establishment of the legacy institutions and to listen to their views on possible solutions to outstanding issues, including the issue of onward disclosure and national security. These consultations proved valuable and will inform the Government's approach in seeking an agreement on addressing the legacy issues. We are hopeful that a way forward can be found to establish these bodies in the near future.

Following the Assembly elections in Northern Ireland, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Flanagan, is working on behalf of the Government to secure the necessary political agreement to get the legacy bodies established and up and running as soon as possible. On a visit to Belfast last week, and in Derry today, the Minister is holding discussions about the possible route to a final agreement on legacy issues. I understand that he will be engaging further with the new Executive in Northern Ireland and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on this vitally important issue. The Government acknowledges the suffering endured by those whose loved ones were killed or injured as a result of the Troubles, and recognises that there are many people suffering who feel they have been forgotten by society and forgotten by the authorities in the midst of all the violence and suffering.

To all those who lost loved ones or who are suffering as a result of the violence of the Troubles, I want to put on record that this Government hears them and is determined to achieve progress on the establishment of the institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past. I assure everybody that this Government is committed to continuing its role as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to supporting the consolidation of peace in Northern Ireland, and to ensuring that we never return to the days of violence. We will continue to support and sustain a lasting peace on this island and will work hard to find an agreement on establishment of institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past, for the benefit of victims and survivors and for society as a whole. That is why we were able with some difficulty to send up files that were held here by the Garda to the coroner's inquest into the Kingsmill massacre. Whether or not they will add greatly to the stock of information about what actually happened there, it is symbolic of our willingness to co-operate in providing that information to the coroner in Belfast.

If Stormont is to work in practice as it is supposed to work in theory, the files that are held by the British establishment in respect of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings should be made available. That is where the urgency is in respect of setting up those institutions dealing with the legacy of the past. That was the understanding when we discussed these matters in Belfast. Reaching that agreement would also help us to honour the lives of the 33 people who were killed so tragically in Dublin and in Monaghan 42 years ago. Today's motion makes clear the shared and undiminished will on all sides of this House to seek and establish the full truth of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. It is a positive statement and a positive signal to the British Government. We will convey this message to the British Government faithfully and seek full implementation of the motion. We believe that a shared understanding can be reached with the British Government on this, as we have found together on many other issues that stem from the Troubles, in support of genuine and deepening reconciliation on this island, North and South. We will continue to work tirelessly to that end.

Is ceart agus is cóir dúinn uilig an cheist seo agus an tubaiste uafásach seo a phlé arís i mbliana. I welcome the opportunity to support this motion, which draws on previous all-party motions in July 2008 and May 2011. I extend my gratitude to the ongoing work of Justice for the Forgotten in continuing to shine a light on this dark moment in our past. I can assure those relatives gathered here today in the Gallery or at home that it will not be forgotten here in this House.

The events of 17 May 1974 occurred against the backdrop of the pitch black horizon of sectarian conflict. Even in the shadow of the brutal violence that was consuming Northern Ireland, the Dublin-Monaghan bombings were the darkest of hours. Thirty-four people, including an unborn child, perished as a series of explosions tore through the city centre and Monaghan town. On an ordinary May evening, with the summer stretching before it, the streets were full of life. Ordinary workers were making their way home after a long day in the office, pensioners trundled along the way to the shops, parents dragged children in their wake. These lives were ruthlessly ended in an indiscriminate slaughter. Entire families were extinguished, lives abruptly taken away or irrevocably changed. The repercussions of the bombs are still being felt today in silent homes across the country. The fabric of family life was ripped apart for dozens of households. Strands of life were cut off for ever. It was the single bloodiest day of the Troubles which have so deeply scarred this island.

The bombs erupted in the fraught political context of the Unionist revolt against the Sunningdale Agreement. As that fragile process was torn asunder by mass strikes, the attacks on our State sent a clear message about the cost of North-South engagement. It is clear from the evidence that loyalist paramilitaries undertook the bloody deed. However, the sophistication and co-ordination of the attacks raises serious issues around the potential orchestration of the explosions by elements of British security forces. The bombs form part of other similar attacks on Dublin, Belturbet, Dundalk and Castleblayney and the savage murder of the Miami Showband during the bleakest period of the conflict. It is important we acknowledge the men and women impacted by those tragic moments of absolute violence.

The work of Mr. Justice Hamilton, Mr. Justice Barron and the McEntee Commission have revealed serious concerns regarding the non-co-operation of the British authorities. This is why the families of those who lost their lives demand and deserve full disclosure by the British Government on the issue. It is an issue that Fianna Fáil has continually raised with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, on her visits here. It is important that this motion keeps the issue alive for all parties in this House. The ongoing refusal of Prime Minister Cameron to release the relevant documents is a fundamental barrier to achieving real closure. How long do we have to wait for a meaningful response from the British Prime Minister on the issue? It cannot just be about conveying messages to the British Prime Minister and then feeling that we have done our duty. I ask the Taoiseach to raise this in his next meeting with the British Prime Minister. He should not do this just in a formal manner, but should seek some concrete response to the unanimous views of this House and the need to get a resolution to this, and then report back to us on the actual response of the British Prime Minister to the request to release those documents and files and to facilitate access for an international person of repute. There are a number of outstanding issues on the British-Irish agenda that have been there for quite a number of years and are not getting advanced in any meaningful way. Some new initiative and momentum is needed to break the logjam on this and on other issues and to get some concrete response from the British Prime Minister, rather than the stonewalling we have experienced to date.

The Troubles claimed some 3,600 lives and destroyed countless more. The poisonous legacy of violence has seeped deep into the roots of many communities. It has stunted the growth of a peaceful society in Northern Ireland. The reach of the past is still pulling at the future. Today’s motion deals with one tragic moment from that turbulent period, but it is one among many. Only this week we saw the opening of an inquest into the Kingsmill massacre. On a desolate stretch of road deep in south Armagh, ten workmen were raked with machine gun fire, murdered solely because of their religion. Their families, too, remember the profound dread of the policeman’s visit to tell them of their loved one’s death. The bloody chronicle of the past is littered with such terrible moments. This is why the failure of the Fresh Start agreement to reach a comprehensive consensus on how to confront legacy issues needs to be addressed.

The relatives who still struggle with the long aftermath of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings share the same strife with countless others. All across our island there are individuals and families still wrestling with violent events that irreversibly changed their lives. What is needed is not simply half the truth or a partisan approach to uncovering a shared past. A divided approach will only serve to exacerbate old wounds and allow historic grievances to fester and grow. To move on and stop the corrosive rot of the past, we need a clear mechanism to bring closure. These things cannot be swept under the political carpet. They will always re-emerge to haunt us.

The Eames-Bradley Commission, the Haass talks and the original Stormont House Agreement all came forward with clear proposals to deal with these divisive and painful issues. Innovative ideas have emerged to date such as the creation of a historical investigations unit to inquire into killings during the Troubles, a commission to enable people to learn privately how their loved ones were killed, and the creation of an oral history archive where experiences of the conflict could be shared. These measures provide a clear path forward to confront and address the painful inheritance of the Troubles.

I am concerned that we risk falling into a divided approach to dealing with the past. We are mired in a sterile debate where both sides call on the other to come forward while showing no willingness to engage themselves. We are trapped on a roundabout of selective memories with no exit. To break that perpetual circle there needs to be a clear route to grapple with the dark days bequeathed by the past. The Irish Government, the British Government and the Northern Ireland Assembly should revisit the ideas of Eames-Bradley to come forward with fresh proposals. We need a renewed focus and energy behind our collective efforts to address the past and build for the future.

Today’s motion is one aspect of that. The British Government should take the lead and open up its files to an independent international judicial figure. As part of a holistic, comprehensive process, the whole truth is needed, not a partial or biased account that fails to recognise the depth and scale of the conflict from all perspectives. It would be useful to know, and it is a pity that the Taoiseach did not put it on the record in his speech today, where the British Government currently stands in relation to our requests. I sincerely hope that today’s motion marks a step forward and not simply a reiteration of old positions. This cannot be allowed to fall into tired, rehearsed expressions of sympathy.

In the aftermath of today's statements it would be useful if the party leaders met to see what could usefully be done to advance this agenda with the British Government in the weeks and months ahead and to try to facilitate a move forward. It is important we have these statements annually and agree this motion, but it is equally important that we are seen to make some progress. If our relationship with the British Government is to stand for anything, a unanimous resolution of the House should be responded to in a meaningful way and the responses to date have not been meaningful or far-reaching enough. Much more is needed if we are to close this black chapter of history and assuage those for whom the hurt is still all too raw. The families, friends and communities tragically touched by heinous acts of violence like the Dublin-Monaghan bombings deserve to know, deserve to remember and deserve to move on. Let us give them the opportunity to do that.

Ba mhaith liom an rún uile-pháirtí seo a mholadh os comhair na Dála. I welcome the fact that, once again, all parties in the Dáil have agreed to a motion calling on the Government actively to seek the release of information held by the British Government relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the three related Barron reports. These include the inquiry into the bombing of Kay’s Tavern, Dundalk in which Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters were killed, and the murder of Seamus Ludlow. I also welcome the commitment in the new programme for Government to pursue the implementation of the Dáil motions calling on the British Government to do what is right.

However, achieving this will require more than rhetoric. This Government, like the last Fianna Fáil-led Government, is actually in breach of its obligations, particularly in the case of Seamus Ludlow. The Ludlow family have been compelled to take legal action to force the Government to act on the Barron recommendations following the failure of two Governments to do this. The Taoiseach acknowledges the work of the Barron Commission and today he declares that addressing the needs of victims and survivors is at the core of the Government's approach. Despite this, the Government refuses to act on Mr. Justice Barron's recommendations.

The Dublin-Monaghan bombings were catastrophic. Thirty-four citizens died, 27 of them in Dublin and seven in Monaghan. I extend my solidarity and sympathies to the victims and survivors of all those incidents covered by the Barron commission reports and to all those who lost their lives or who were injured in the course of the conflict. There can be no hierarchy and every one of them deserves justice and truth. I especially commend the Justice for the Forgotten campaign, the Pat Finucane Centre and Relatives for Justice on their hard work on behalf of victims, and I welcome the advocacy groups to the House today. They have our full support. The British state has never been open or honest about the role its intelligence services played in Unionist death squads that engaged in the murder of innocent victims. However, it is now an accepted matter of fact that collusion was policy and administrative practice. This was also acknowledged by the sub-committee of the cross-party Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Women's Rights. Despite this, the British Government has consistently refused to co-operate. This is not only in respect of murders that occurred in this State but also those that occurred in the North. This is the 25th anniversary of the murder of Councillor Eddie Fullerton, who was a very good friend of mine. Again, I express my continued solidarity to his wife, Dinah, and their family. The British Government refuses to give information, which is in its possession, into the murder of Eddie. The Irish Government has been remiss in supporting the family in their quest for justice.

The British Government has also failed to establish the public inquiry, as agreed at Weston Park in 2001, into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane. The British Government is also thwarting efforts by the Lord Chief Justice in Northern Ireland to hold legacy inquests. This is not just a passive British Government, this is an active policy to thwart efforts to get to the truth. This needs to be matched with positive outreach by the Irish Government. The refusal to fund legacy inquests or to fund investigations are all in clear breach of the Government's international human rights obligations. There are also efforts to block the families' access to files which are held in the public archives. The Government in London closes them down.

As a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish Government must use all of its resources, all of its diplomatic services and its access to scores of international bodies, including the United Nations, to exert pressure on the British Government. In all honesty, I have no great hope that this motion will have any impact whatsoever on the British Government. Like those that have occurred before, this debate will be ignored. However, and I have said this many times to the Taoiseach and to previous taoisigh going back a long time, a consistent strategic engagement by the Government with the British Government and the use of the political media and international opportunities available to it can make a difference. For example, has the Government made arrangements for an initiative with the media in Britain on the back of this particular motion? Has that even been done? It is time for us to act, as the rhetoric which is often used when we debate these issues implies. We need action and not just rhetoric.

I extend a céad míle fáilte to the members of Justice for the Forgotten, the bereaved families and survivors of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings who are present in the Gallery.

I am one of the Oireachtas Members of the cross-party group on victims of the conflict and we meet them regularly. Their struggle and search for justice has been a long and difficult one for the families involved and this continues to be a case of justice delayed by the latest British Government. The so-called new relationship with Britain does not appear to extend to transparency and the release of the files on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. This is all part of a pattern, as the British Government remains the singular obstacle to resolving many legacy issues such as the public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, the killing, as mentioned, of our colleague, Sinn Féin councillor Eddie Fullerton, and the activities of the so-called Glenanne gang.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016 was the 42nd anniversary of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, and on that day I placed a motion on the Order Paper of the Dáil. I welcome that the Government recognised this initiative and drafted today's motion. We know that in 2008 and 2011 the Dáil unanimously passed motions on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings calling on the British Government to release any relevant files it held on these attacks and calling on the Irish Government to press the British Government again to comply with this reasonable request. I believe it is important that this Thirty-second Dáil reiterate and agree again a proactive approach on this issue.

We know that the Dublin-Monaghan bombings were carried out by loyalists and British agents with logistical and technical support from British security personnel. The co-ordinated no-warning bombs were designed to kill and resulted in the highest amount of deaths and casualties of the conflict. No one - absolutely no one - has ever been brought to justice. The British Government, for its part, maintains its public position of silence and repeats its worn-out and rehearsed words of denial. It refuses to release the files and information it has on the attacks that killed 34 innocent people, including an unborn child, and injured and maimed almost 300.

I welcome the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Flanagan, attended a commemoration ceremony and wreath-laying at the Talbot Street memorial on the 42nd anniversary last week. I was struck by Alan McBride’s speech at this year’s commemoration. Alan lost his wife and father-in-law in the Shankill Road bomb. His speech was emotional and moving. He appealed for honesty and dialogue and for truth and justice for all victims of the conflict.

This will and does involve uncomfortable conversations, not just with friends or those who have a similar outlook, but with those who are enemies and who may have tried to kill or did kill people's loved ones. There is an imperative on us all to try to move beyond the hurt, acknowledge our collective failure, make politics work and begin a process of truth and real reconciliation. The Irish Government has an important part to play in that process. Up to now, the British Government has shown a complete lack of empathy for the victims and a complete disregard for the mandate of the Dáil and successive Irish Governments by ignoring previous all-party motions. The British Government has also ignored the calls of An tUachtarán Michael D. Higgins.

I welcome the fact that the Government included a commitment to actively pursue the implementation of previous motions in its programme for Government. I believe it will find the full support of all Deputies in this regard, but Sinn Féin and I will be closely tracking how this Government follows through on actions arising from today's motion. Every avenue must be explored and every opportunity used. The Government owes that to the 34 men, women and children that were killed, the hundreds that were injured and the families bereaved in these bombings. The people sitting in the Gallery today demand and deserve truth and justice. Let us collectively give them our support and assistance in achieving that in the very near future.

We support the motion before the House and acknowledge wholeheartedly that after 42 years we seem to be no closer to the truth, despite the best efforts of Barron and MacEntee and the best efforts of this House as articulated in its report of 2004 and the subsequent motions of 2008 and 2011. Now, here we are again seeking to speak for the victims and articulate on a cross-party basis and in a manner which speaks for all of the people within the 26 counties that we want to assist the victims and their families in seeking truth. I worry sometimes when I stand before this House speaking on this issue. It has taken 42 years of debate, cajoling and efforts on the part of the victims and their families, and I hope we will not let another generation go by before we do finally seek truth on this matter.

I read a speech by the UK Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, recently. It was given on 11 February 2016. In the speech she stated, "The Government fully recognises that it will be much more difficult to achieve our objective of building a genuinely shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland unless and until we can find some way of coming to terms with a divided past." She went on to say:

Where there is evidence of wrongdoing it will be pursued. Everyone is subject to the rule of law.

However, it would appear that not everyone is subject to the rule of law. Why is it that we are still talking about this 42 years later, in an era of supposed transparency, where we are trying to deal with the legacy of the past and have been through two iterations of talks? I was party to those talks in 2014 and 2015 and it seems to me that there is a hunger among the victims and survivors for simple truth and that the issue of reconciliation and moving on as a society will never be attained fully until such time as truth reigns supreme. In this era, when Anglo-Irish relations are extremely positive and evolving in a positive sense, I do not see why we cannot facilitate people who want that basic and fundamental right to justice.

It is worth noting that the Oireachtas sub-committee examination of the Barron report, which dates back to 2004, states:

(ii) ... in all probability most if not all of the perpetrators came from Northern Ireland.

(iii) That in all probability information which identifies and which concerns the perpetrators still exists in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

(iv) That in all probability most of the information touching on collusion in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is in Northern Ireland and/or in Great Britain.

They are three very pertinent points and I do not think the situation has changed between 2004 and 2016 in that regard.

I know that successive Governments have raised this issue with successive British Governments and I know, having served as Minister for North-South co-operation, that this has been raised very recently by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Flanagan. I also know, to be fair to the Minister, that he constantly raises this very specific issue, among others, with the Secretary of State.

I believe strongly that this is a worthy motion. Diplomacy is very effective, whether it is economic or political diplomacy. It is important that this House send a message to the British Government on behalf of the Irish people, which is that we will continue to press for justice and truth and that we will allow access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents in their possession pertaining to these bombings.

These issues need to be tackled if we are to fulfil better relations from an Anglo-Irish and North-South perspective. I believe strongly that this motion is worthy of support on a cross-party basis.

I am keen to acknowledge the work of Justice for the Forgotten. I know those involved are in constant contact with officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I wish to acknowledge their role as one of many organisations in the Six Counties that continue to advocate for victims. The legacy issues were not dealt with sufficiently in the last iteration of the Stormont talks. There is an important role for this House to play now on a cross-party basis. We must ensure that we continue to press for the legacy issues to be dealt with. Society, North and South, will not fully move on until these issues are dealt with. We have a duty of care to people within the Six Counties to continue to press these issues with the British Government.

I will be sharing time with Deputy Bríd Smith. I welcome the relatives of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings to the Gallery today. I wish to express the support of the Socialist Party and the Anti-Austerity Alliance for the relatives in their ongoing attempts to get answers and justice for their loved ones, who were killed so many years ago, as well as for victims of all the other atrocities carried out during the course of the Troubles.

The bombings in Dublin city and Monaghan town on Friday, 17 May 1974 were absolutely barbaric. They were designed to kill and seriously injure as many innocent civilians as possible. The events of that day resulted in the biggest loss of life in the Troubles. The families of the victims and the Justice for the Forgotten group are to be commended on their ongoing work in seeking justice and answers to what took place on that day as well as the other terrorist attacks in the period. These included the Dublin bombings in December 1972 and January 1973, the atrocity in Belturbet in December 1972, the atrocity in Dundalk in December 1975, the atrocity in Castleblayney in March 1976 and the killing of the Miami Showband in July 1975 as well as many other deaths that took place at the time.

The families never got a proper Garda or RUC investigation into these events. The authorities on both sides of the Border appear to have taken the attitude that these bombings and killings were simply part of the Troubles and that proper investigation was not warranted or required. The families were left not knowing the full information and were not satisfied with the investigation that took place. This compounded the grief they have had to endure at the loss of their loved ones.

My Socialist Party colleague, Joe Higgins, raised this issue in the Dáil on numerous occasions. I dug out some transcripts today. It is incredible that 15 and 16 years ago the same questions were asked in this Chamber but there has been no movement whatsoever. On one occasion he questioned Bertie Ahern, who was the Taoiseach at the time of the Barron and McEntee inquiries. He called on the Government of the day to take a strong position and demand access to files and documents held by the British authorities. At the time, Tony Blair was the British Prime Minister. Clearly, it was a different era, yet we are still seeking answers and there has not been co-operation on the part of the British Government. Even Mr. Justice Barron concluded that it would not be fanciful to say there was a level of collusion between elements of the British State security services and loyalist paramilitaries. This is why there is a particularly strong need for the files and documents held by them to be made available immediately for a full investigation.

All of the victims of the Troubles and their relatives deserve truth and justice. The demands of the Justice for the Forgotten group need to be supported. I am also aware of the campaign work of the victims of the Ballymurphy and Kingsmill massacres as well. We also support the demands of these victims and relatives for investigations in order that truth and justice can be delivered for them as well. We need this not only for the relatives and victims, but to learn the lessons of the past, the extent of State collusion and what the State is capable of in these circumstances.

I want to talk about something that is fresh in our memories. All of us will be aware of the high level of emotion, joy and relief felt by the families of the Hillsborough disaster recently when, finally, they got closure on the case of a cover-up by the South Yorkshire police, a case they had been fighting since 1989. Not only the community in Liverpool and Britain, but the whole world felt a sense of sadness, relief and joy - all manner of emotions - for that community when they finally got closure after such a long time. It is true to say that the same happened in Derry when the British Government issued an apology to the crowd at the Guildhall in Derry some 38 years after Bloody Sunday. These people have had to wait for long periods to get closure on issues that have deeply affected their lives and communities, in particular, their ability to be able to get on with their lives in a full, meaningful and healthy emotional way.

On the forty-second anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, it is crucial that a strong statement comes from the Houses of the Oireachtas. The motion is clearly supported across all parties. It is fairly innocuous in the sense that it shows support for the people who have done a great job in keeping this issue on the agenda over the years. Sometimes, I wonder how they keep doing it after all these years and how they stick with it. Many generations stick with it; it is not only the same individuals all the time. I admire them for it and believe it is important that they continue do so. The heart of the matter is that behind the cover-up of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is years of deep co-operation between the State and nasty sectarian forces in Northern Ireland. What is referred to as the Troubles was marked by pockets of serious incidents, including killings and attempted killings, directly linked to this collusion.

Recently, I shared a platform with Bernadette Devlin, or Bernadette McAliskey, as she is now known, at the celebration of Gerry Carroll's victory in west Belfast for People Before Profit. She reminded us of the time she lay under her bed with 20 odd bullets in her body. She almost died in hospital at the time. That was clearly an incident of collusion between the British Government and loyalist paramilitaries, as was the murder of Pat Finucane and many others.

It is politically important for the families to pursue this issue. Obviously, it is personally important for those involved but politically and historically it is important to understand the nature of the northern state, the nature of British-Irish relations and to correct the historical record.

Justice for the Forgotten will continue to establish a mechanism that can persuade the British Government to provide the documentary evidence. I know that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, has recently reaffirmed his commitment to continue to call on the British Government to release the necessary documentation that can give closure and openness to this process.

Although the motion is good in its content and it has widespread support, we should really question our diplomatic methods. It is a little like the definition of insanity as the action of someone who keeps doing the same thing but expects a different result.

Perhaps when we pass this motion - not "if," but "when" - in this new Dáil, we should go at it in a different way. Instead of asking the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, to call on the British Government to co-operate, we should raise the stakes. The Taoiseach, and perhaps even the President, should raise their voices and call on the British Government to deliver justice for the forgotten. This is important in a year when we have seen closure on a very sad period of history for people in Britain. It is now time for the British Government to give closure to people in this country on an extraordinarily sad and tragic time in their lives. As well as passing the motion, we should up the stakes. The Taoiseach and the President, Michael D. Higgins, should lend their voices, loud, clear and strong, to the British Government to give these people closure and open up the documents that are necessary to give us the truth of what happened on those days.

Last week on 17 May we marked the 42nd anniversary of the Monaghan and Dublin bombings. Thirty-four lives were taken by no-warning bombs placed in busy streets. This was the largest single-day loss of life over some 30 years of the Troubles. I extend my continuing sympathy and solidarity with all the survivors and the bereaved of that terrible day.

These and other British-sponsored bombings have never elicited the release of critical documentation held by the British Government, its armed forces and North-of-Ireland-based agencies. This is despite the efforts of Mr. Justice Henry Barron, who conducted an inquiry into the atrocities and whose report, when considered by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights, prompted that all-party committee to conclude that "we are dealing with acts of international terrorism that were colluded in by the British security forces". Television programmes broadcast by BBC and RTE last year showed the pervasiveness of collusion, a practice of the British Government and its security forces, the consequences of which are felt by families and survivors across Ireland today.

Collusion is not an allegation that can be dismissed as propaganda. It is a fact of the conflict. It was committed on a large scale and with impunity. There is clear evidence that points to collusion being not only practice but policy. It was planned and directed with full political authority. This is no more evident than in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The demands contained in two all-party motions adopted unanimously in the Dáil speak volumes of the chasm between the Irish and British Governments on the matter. The Irish Government collectively demands justice on behalf of the victims and in the name of the people of Ireland, but the latter claims national security reasons for its non-co-operation and even on occasion denies that any such documentation exists. There are many aspects to engaging with this legacy, but central to the Sinn Féin approach has been the facilitation of information disclosure, truth and justice for families. The British Government’s blanket veto on providing information to the families of victims of the conflict is unacceptable and remains the biggest single obstacle to dealing effectively with the legacy of the past.

The Taoiseach has failed to uphold the rights of families of Irish citizens killed and injured through acts of collusion. He has failed to hold the British Government to account for its refusal to fully co-operate with the inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. This is the case despite the fact that he and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade have a strong mandate from the Oireachtas to pursue this issue with real determination with the British Government. The Irish Government is not a minor player in the peace process. It is a co-equal guarantor and partner in that process. The Irish Government must not let the British Government walk away from its role and responsibility in the conflict. It must secure the right to truth for all citizens and ensure the mechanisms agreed as part of the Stormont House Agreement are implemented.

I also note and welcome the fact that at last week’s commemoration on Talbot Street, which I attended, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, called for full British Government co-operation in order that the truth could be established and those responsible pursued, if that were still possible. Actions speak louder than words. I call on the Taoiseach and this Government to pursue the full realisation of the demands of these all-party motions and to raise the matter again, urgently and with real resolve, with the British Government.

I acknowledge once again the tenacity and courage of the campaigning group Justice for the Forgotten, and Margaret Urwin in particular. I wish to conclude by remembering all the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and not least those who lost their lives in my home town of Monaghan on that fateful Friday in May 1974: Archie Harper, Peggy White and Jack Travers, all of whom I knew personally, Patrick Askin and Thomas Croarkin, whose families I know well, and Thomas Campbell and George Williamson. May the Lord have mercy on all their souls and grant peace and justice to their grieving and campaigning relatives and friends.

I acknowledge and welcome in the Visitors' Gallery the families and campaigners for Justice for the Forgotten. They are most welcome here again. I pay tribute to their great work and their tenaciousness in pursuing truth over these long years. Any progress that has been made in the search for justice is due largely if not exclusively to their efforts. They are to be commended on that.

We have just commemorated the 42nd anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. I remember the time; I was a child in this city. Three bombs exploded in Dublin and a fourth in Monaghan, killing 33 civilians and an unborn child and injuring almost 300 people. Those killed were aged from five months to 80 years. One of the deadliest bombs exploded in Talbot Street, in the heart of my constituency in the north inner city. Many people and families today bear the physical and emotional scars of that day. For them, this is not about the past; it is very much in the present. The bombings claimed by the UVF had the fingerprints of the British Army and British intelligence all over them, most obviously in respect of their agents and informers, those whom they ran within the UVF and other Unionist and loyalist proxy organisations. In his report on the bombings in 2003, the Irish Supreme Court judge Mr. Justice Henry Barron pointed his judicial finger at the most likely involvement of the British military and intelligence services in those bombings. There is no question, for those who care to examine the case, that this was a matter of collusion. My colleague, Deputy Adams, unfairly said he had little hope that the passing of another all-party motion in this House would have any real effect on the British Government. It is understandable that his view would be tinged with some cynicism.

The first question we have to ask is whether the passing of this motion will have an impact on our Government in Dublin. Sadly, unlike Deputy Sean Sherlock, who commended us and the Government on doing our best, I do not believe that is the case. We should be and are very critical of the British system for shutting down access and avenues to truth and justice. That is its form, and there is no sign of that form changing. We also need to be equally honest about the effort, or lack of effort - the lack of determination - from the Dublin Government. The Taoiseach, and not alone he, has been passive and has largely paid lip service to this particular campaign for justice. With another joint motion, it would be intolerable if he were to yet again sit on his hands.

When inquiries are made of the Taoiseach as to the position of the British system and Prime Minister on these matters, he routinely responds in the Chamber that he has raised the matter with the Prime Minister. It is not sufficient simply to raise the matter with the British system in some kind of box-ticking exercise.

The Fresh Start agreement negotiations were very revealing on a number of counts, in the first instance in terms of where the British position now rests. Republicans and Unionists cobbled together an agreement to deal with legacy issues, and in came the British system citing matters of national security. This was entirely spurious and without foundation. It was given avenues to address any genuine concerns it might have had in this regard, but of course it had no interest in that. What was equally revealing was the passivity of the Dublin system when faced with that British intransigence.

I do not recall any serious effort by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, or by anybody else within the Administration to face down and challenge the blanket denial of truth, information and justice. If this motion is to mean anything, if the fine words of the Taoiseach are to amount to anything and if those in the Gallery are to have any real prospect of getting the truth and justice they deserve, the first thing that needs to change is the position, attitude and inactivity of the Dublin Government.

It is now 42 years since the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Although nobody has been brought to justice for those terrible crimes, it appears highly probable that the murders were carried out as a result of collusion between certain sections within the British state and loyalist paramilitaries. We know that the Glenanne gang, that in the 1970s was based in Armagh and comprised a group of Northern loyalists who were involved with the UDR, the RUC and certain sections within the British security services, was responsible for a significant number of murders committed in Northern Ireland at the time. It carried out sectarian murders against Catholics. The sectarian murders for which it was responsible were just as heinous and sectarian as the campaign carried out by the Provisional IRA at the same time.

The bombs in Dublin and Monaghan were not simply an attack on the unfortunate people who were murdered that day; they were also an attack on the State. They were sectarian attacks that were committed at a time when this State and the North could have regressed into sectarian civil war between loyalist Protestant and Nationalist Catholic groups. The actions of the people within British intelligence who promoted and colluded in the crime actively encouraged and sought to promote such a conflict, and that needs to be condemned unreservedly.

We will never overcome the legacy of the past unless the participants from the past decide to admit what happened, and that applies to everyone on all sides of the conflict. Unfortunately, it appears that is not going to happen. Part of the reason there will not be an admission as to the wrongdoing of the past is because it is a source of extraordinary embarrassment and an admission of murder. It is a recognition that what happened in the past was completely wrong. Why did all those young people in Northern Ireland have to die and what was achieved? Why did so many people in Dublin and Monaghan have to die 42 years ago and what was achieved?

Acts of collusion between the British state and loyalist paramilitaries may have started in the 1970s and continued throughout the 1980s into the early 1990s. It was an illegal response to the equally repulsive campaign being carried out on behalf of the Provisional IRA at the time. I regret to say, however, that history teaches us that the likelihood is that the British state will not face up to its responsibility in respect of collusion.

The House previously passed a motion seeking the appointment of a judge to examine the documents available to the British and which could throw some light on these heinous crimes. We should recall that in Weston Park, the agreement between Ireland and Britain a number of years ago, there was similar agreement that there would be a public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. To date we have received no public inquiry from the British state. Instead, we have had the De Silva inquiry which, while illuminating, is not the public inquiry for which we entered into an agreement.

It is also instructive to note what happens to people within the British state who seek to expose collusion on the part of certain sections of the British military. In the 1980s, John Colin Wallace was an intelligence officer in Northern Ireland. He, along with Fred Holroyd, another British Army officer, exposed serious wrongdoing and illegality on behalf of the British forces in Northern Ireland. He was subsequently prosecuted and convicted of murder, but the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom in 1996.

John Stalker was deputy chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police and was asked by the British Government to look into reports of a shoot to kill policy. He was removed from the inquiry after allegations were made against him, allegations which have long since been shown to be false.

John Stevens was a senior police officer in the Metropolitan police who was asked to investigate certain allegations of collusion. It is sometimes forgotten that he reached the finding that there was collusion involved in the murder of Pat Finucane. It is instructive to note what happened to Mr. Stevens the night before he planned to arrest an individual involved in the heinous crime. His office in the RUC base in Carrickfergus was burnt down.

I do not wish to give up hope in respect of Dublin and Monaghan, and I commend the people in the Gallery, and the families of those who were murdered, on their perseverance. It is important we continue to seek the truth in respect of this matter. I can assure the House and the families that Fianna Fáil will continue to pursue that, notwithstanding the fact it may be the case that we will not get co-operation from the British state.

I welcome Justice for the Forgotten and representatives of bereaved families to the Gallery and thank them for keeping this issue to the fore and being so tenacious in raising it over recent years. As other speakers have said, it is now 42 years since the horrendous bombings of Dublin and Monaghan in which 34 people died and 300 were injured. There were three bombs in Dublin and one in Monaghan about an hour and half later. A number of people from County Tipperary were killed in the bombings. In a previous bombing in December 1972, a Tipperary resident, George Bradshaw, who was a bus worker from Fethard, died.

One would wonder why over the past 42 years we have not been able to get to the truth and get justice and answers for those who were bereaved. It is now clearly and widely accepted that British state security forces were involved in the bombings. The evidence for that comes from the mouths of former members of the British security forces. The Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality indicated that it is believed that the bombs were an act of international terrorism involving British state forces. In his report Mr. Justice Barron criticised the Garda Síochána investigation and said it was stopped prematurely. He also criticised the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government of the day and said British security forces were, in his view, involved in the bombings.

Since then we have been unable to get co-operation from the British Government on this issue. We have sought files and papers to be made available, but that did not happen. The Government asked that an independent international judicial expert be allowed to view the relevant papers, but that has not happened. There were all-party motions in 2008, 2011 and again today.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.