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.