Public Hearings on the Barron Report.

Cuirim fáilte roimh gach éinne anseo inniú. Seo an cuigiú lá de na héisteachtaí poiblí maidir leis an Tuarascáil ón gCoimisiún Fiosrúcháin Neamhspleách faoi Bhúmáil Bhaile Átha Cliath i 1972 agus 1973. Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh lucht féachanna TG4 freisin.

On Tuesday the sub-committee heard contributions from the former Minister for Justice, Mr. O'Malley; the former Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, and the former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Seán Donlon. I thank all those who have contributed to our discussions to date.

Today we will be meeting the Garda Commissioner and his staff, the Chief-of-Staff of the Defence Forces, a number of retired gardaí, Tomás MacGiolla and representatives of Justice for the Forgotten. Before we begin, I remind all concerned that while Members of the Oireachtas enjoy privilege, those invited to appear before the Houses do not.

I welcome the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, Mr. Noel Conroy, to the hearings. With him is the deputy commissioner, Mr. Fachtna Murphy, and Detective Chief Superintendent Callinan. At the end of the Commissioner's statement, there will be dialogue between him and Senator Jim Walsh and Deputy Murphy.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy

As Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, I express my deepest sympathy to the families of those who tragically lost their lives in the bombings and the other atrocities in 1971, 1972 and 1973 and the many others who suffered injuries and pain and who continue to do so arising from those incidents. The primary focus of the Garda investigation is to establish the truth and assemble the evidence available to allow a decision to be made to bring prosecutions for breaches of the criminal law.

All relevant files and material in Garda hands were assembled and made available to the commission headed by Mr. Justice Barron. During the course of the commission's work further material, as requested, was made available. The liaison established facilitated the commission with all relevant details regarding members of the Garda Síochána who were available for interview, etc. Unfortunately, the main investigators at the time, Detective Chief Superintendent John Joy and Detective Chief Superintendent Tony McMahon, were deceased prior to the establishment of the commission.

At this stage I do not propose to go into the details of the atrocities as they have been clearly outlined in Mr. Justice Barron's report. I will deal with the work that is continuing today. In 1971-72 forensic science was in its infancy, as it was in other jurisdictions. Today our forensic science laboratory is staffed by highly skilled qualified forensic scientists. Experience in Europe and further afield has contributed towards the development of best practice, enhancing methods of investigation and exploiting advances in forensic science. These factors contribute to the increased interaction with police services worldwide, enabling the Garda Síochána to progress our capacity to respond effectively to all aspects of crime.

An example of this co-operation is demonstrated by the fact that during the Irish Presidency of the European Union, when the outrage happened in Madrid on 9 March 2004, as chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Group — CTG — I convened an emergency meeting in Dublin attended by all countries' heads of counter terrorism. On that occasion the meeting included experts from Norway, Sweden and the United States. Its purpose was to identify best practice for a co-ordinated response to that outrage.

Significant resources are invested in initial training for gardaí, as well as on the job in-service training and development courses, including promotion courses. In the event of a similar atrocity or outrage happening today, certain aspects of the investigation would differ significantly from that of 1971-73. A forensic science team, backed up by the State pathologist and expert personnel from the forensic science laboratory, would attend the scene to assist in the identification and gathering of evidence and the furnishing of advice concerning forensic evidence. The advent of DNA evidence has presented greater opportunities in solving crime.

From an international perspective there is now greater interaction between police services. There is also enhanced sharing of information between police services worldwide. The proliferation of policing seminars, European co-ordination meetings, etc., has contributed significantly in this regard. Today there is a dedicated point of contact between the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland and regular meetings are held between members of both services. The Garda Síochána is engaged in a number of joint investigations of targeted individuals in the region on both sides of the Border.

EU protocols and legislation are in place to facilitate the exchange of intelligence and the transfer of evidence between European nations. The European arrest warrant is in place, as is the Criminal Justice (Joint Investigation Teams) Act 2004 which facilitates the investigation on an international stage of crimes of this nature. Modern information technology facilitates improved and speedy analysis of intelligence. A number of Garda specialist units have been formed to concentrate on specific aspects of criminal investigations from a multidisciplinary and multi-agency perspective.

The advent of CCTV presents further operational opportunities, particularly in visual identification. The tracking of landline or mobile phone data, as regulated by statue, is now available and a considerable aid in the investigation of crime. The computerisation of fingerprint processing and the installation of a new automatic fingerprint identification system have accelerated the process of identifying finger marks found at scenes.

That is my brief statement. I will take questions if that is what the sub-committee requires.

Senator Jim Walsh will commence the questions and dialogue.

I welcome the Garda Commissioner and his staff to the hearings. I will start by referring the Garda Commissioner to page 103 of the report in connection with the murder of Ms Bríd Carr on 19 November 1971 on the Lifford Road. Her brother, Fr. James Carr, painted the background at the time. One of the comments that stuck with us was that he felt the Garda was soft on the IRA in County Donegal. Would the Commissioner like to comment? Second, three suspects were identified by a number of witnesses. The report states: "The three suspects who had been identified by witnesses were not interviewed by the Garda Síochána because it was considered that it would be a futile exercise." Mr. Justice Barron believes that is something that should have been done. I wonder if Mr. Conroy would like to comment on that.

Commissioner Conroy

The Deputy's first question relates to the allegation that we were soft on the IRA. I do not subscribe to that. I would say that if somebody breaks the law there is a duty on every member of the Garda Síochána to investigate that crime, to bring the person to justice or to find the best evidence to ensure the person is brought to justice. Going back to the period from 1969 to 1973 one will find that many of those we describe as IRA people were arrested and dealt with before the courts. Of course there are occasions when there is in existence intelligence in relation to the activities of subversive groups in general. However, converting that into evidence has always been a major difficulty.

The Deputy also asked about the three suspects identified. Some of them are known to me personally. They have been arrested in the Donegal area on a number of occasions. It was clear to me, having read the files, that the problem for the investigating gardaí at the time was that the witnesses who nominated the three individuals — I think they nominated the right people — did not, unfortunately, for reasons best know to them, make statements to back-up the information given to the Garda. As far as I can determine, several efforts were made to get the witnesses to make statements based on the intelligence given. If that had happened, I am sure a prosecution would have taken place. Members should realise that had a prosecution taken place it would have been taken in Northern Ireland and the function of the Garda Síochána would have been to assist in every way the RUC investigation into the woman's death.

The three suspects were in the Lifford area. Is Commissioner Conroy saying they were interviewed subsequent to that incident or is he saying they would have been interviewed prior to the incident?

Commissioner Conroy

They would have been interviewed prior to and, on many occasions, subsequent to it.

I refer Commissioner Conroy to page 76 relating to the bombing at Sackville Place on 20 January in which Tommy Douglas lost his life. The Garda received an anonymous telephone call giving the names of the five people who, it was alleged, were responsible for that particular bombing. The report states: "There is nothing in the documents seen by the Inquiry to indicate what steps, if any, were taken to follow up this information." What is Commissioner Conroy's comment on that matter?

Commissioner Conroy

I am speaking in hindsight on the matter. I am sure other people coming before the sub-committee might wish to comment further on what happened then. When reading the files I paid particular attention to what happened, the type of investigations conducted and so on. There were many suspects, including on the republican side, from within the UDA, UVF, etc. I have found nothing that would support the suggestion that the anonymous call in relation to the individuals nominated was sufficient to bring the matter before the Director of Public Prosecutions to enable him to make a decision on what should or should not happen in terms of prosecution.

Is that because the information was not followed up? There is nothing in the file to indicate whether or not the matter was followed up. If it was followed up, there is nothing to indicate what information was ascertained.

Commissioner Conroy

The Senator will note from Mr. Justice Barron's report that quite a number of gardaí travelled to Northern Ireland at the time. Co-operation at that time was very good. Those matters would have been discussed with the police service of Northern Ireland at the time. We would have taken the cue from them in relation to those nominated. The Senator can take it that were those nominated good suspects, interviews would have been conducted, though not perhaps by the Garda but by the RUC.

I do not wish to press the matter but I would have assumed that where a crime is committed and the Garda Síochána receive information which identifies the perpetrators the matter would be followed up, either to eliminate the suspects or to ascertain what basis existed for their being suspects. The indication is that no follow up took place. That is a matter of concern to the Garda Síochána and to us.

Commissioner Conroy

First, the telephone call was anonymous. The information supplied by the anonymous caller would have been analysed. In nearly every investigation of a serious nature we receive a great deal of information from anonymous telephone calls and from named sources. We spend 50% of our time following trails that have nothing whatsoever to do with a crime. That is a regular feature. I am not suggesting people should not ring with such information. We are delighted, when information relating to a crime is put into the public arena, to receive any type of information from genuine people. Such information, received either by telephone or in written form, when analysed by those charged with responsibility for analysing it is often found not to be correct.

On the Douglas murder, the family had communications with the Garda Síochána wherein some information was supplied and reference was made to a Garda report dated 10 August 1974. When a search was made for that report, the family was told it did not exist even though it was referred to on two occasions by an inspector. Does Commissioner Conroy have any information on that matter?

Commissioner Conroy

Unfortunately I do not.

My next question is a general one. The families felt abandoned by the State and State apparatus, including by the Garda Síochána. The fact that nobody was brought to justice accentuated that feeling. The Minister acknowledged the families' situation and stated that were the families to appoint a researcher he would co-operate in allowing him or her to go through the Department's files, obviously subject to ensuring sensitive information on security issues was not made available. He said he would co-operate in assisting the families to get answers to questions they have had for 30 years. Would Mr. Conroy, as Garda Commissioner, and the Garda authorities co-operate in the same way with such a researcher if appointed?

Commissioner Conroy

Much of the information is sensitive. Given the situation which pertained at the time, the Garda Síochána had to depend a great deal on the information supplied to it by the RUC. We would have paid a lot of attention to that information. Just as the sub-committee is asking questions of me today, we would have asked many questions of our colleagues in the RUC in terms of the information it pursued on our behalf to ascertain if there was any substance to it and so on.

Currently, when a serious crime is committed we appoint a liaison officer to liaise with the family. That is done as soon as we receive information on the crime. That officer remains the liaison officer throughout the investigation and thereafter. In other words, the family has somebody with whom to liaise by telephone or in person. I am all in favour of the Garda Síochána helping the relatives in any way it can. I suggest, if this meets with approval, that a member of the force be made available at Garda headquarters to talk to individuals and answer questions about the information held on file. Naturally, intelligence is a different matter but the garda would be able to give an indication of what was contained in it.

That is welcome. I think the Commissioner is saying the Garda Síochána will co-operate with individuals, subject to certain caveats on security.

Commissioner Conroy

Yes.

In the course of the investigation of the bombing on 1 December 1972, Chief Superintendent Wren asked the Army to circulate photofits to Irish officers attending training courses at a British army establishment. Does this indicate that the Garda had some reason to suspect collusion in these matters? Would it be useful if the former chief superintendent were to attend to discuss this matter with the committee?

Commissioner Conroy

I am not sure that what he would have to say on the matter would be of value to the sub-committee. The Garda Síochána, in manning checkpoints in Border areas, had Army back up. I image the reason photofits were circulated to Army personnel was to identify such persons crossing the Border and have the matter investigated further.

In the same vein, Mr. Justice Barron refers to the extraordinary events between Mr. Patrick Crinnion and Mr. John Wyman. He also refers to the Littlejohns. Does the Commissioner have information on when Detective Garda Crinnion was recruited by MI6 and whether he passed on Garda files to it, or on other crimes in which the Littlejohns were involved? Did the Garda — the Commissioner would have been a garda at the time — have concerns about this type of covert activity? The Littlejohns, in particular, stated they were under instructions from the Ministry of Defence to be involved in crime and other nefarious activities, apart from gathering information.

Commissioner Conroy

As a result of a Garda investigation, it was discovered that Detective Garda Crinnion was siphoning off certain intelligence documents. Naturally, those in charge of crime and security put in train a process to investigate the intelligence they were receiving on meetings between the British intelligence service and our people. Sensitive documents were found on how intelligence was analysed at the Irish crime and security branch. A prosecution followed and the person was dealt with by the courts. As the intelligence was sensitive, the matter was not made public.

The chief superintendent, Mr. J. P. McMahon's report of 1 January 1973 identified the alleged involvement of Mr. Robert Bridges. Why was no formal request made to the RUC to interview him or to follow up his movements?

Although Garda files were made available to Mr. Justice Barron, he notes in his report that the files contain inconclusive data. For example, leads are identified but there is no record as to whether they were followed up and, if so, the results. I presume safeguards are now in place and the system nowadays is much better. However, will the Commissioner comment on the historical way of carrying out such investigations and contrast it with current methods?

Commissioner Conroy

The individual to whom the Senator referred was arrested and charged and went to prison for a long time. The number of atrocities that had occurred prior to his arrest diminished after he was detained and sentenced to imprisonment.

With the advent of technology, computerisation and so on, which was not available to investigators in the 1970s, all matters are followed up. Let me say I cannot get into the mindset of the investigators who were involved but from knowing the individuals, under whom I worked, I can say they were highly competent and effective investigators of the time. Without a shadow of a doubt, if they saw there was any way of identifying suspects or getting the evidence, I can assure the committee that evidence would have been gathered and presented to the Attorney General, as was the case in the early 1970s. That was the calibre of the people charged with investigating serious crime. Unfortunately, they are no longer with us.

We are probably looking at the most serious crimes ever committed in this country. From listening to the submissions from Justice for the Forgotten, the relatives of victims and some of the victims, there is a general impression that the Garda investigations were conducted in a very short space of time. Considering the significance of the crimes involved, that is difficult to understand. Will the Commissioner comment on this?

Commissioner Conroy

The Deputy is correct that these were very serious crimes. I looked at the files and felt in most cases that the investigations had been carried out in a competent and capable manner. I saw where they had run into difficulties which they could not overcome. Naturally, the families of the victims would like closure. So would I, as would the members of the force who dealt with the investigations at the time. Our goal is always to bring the perpetrators to justice. I have never been involved in any investigation during my service where that has not been the focus of the investigators. That remains the case to this day.

One of the disadvantages the Garda Síochána faced at the time was the state of the relationship with the RUC and the British authorities. What the Commissioner has said this morning seems to be a slight contradiction of what the former Minister for Justice, Mr. Des O'Malley, said the other day, when he indicated quite clearly the total lack of co-operation between all levels, from Government level down to Garda and Army ranks, except for a number of sergeants who communicated with their counterparts across the Border. He felt it had been very difficult for the Garda Síochána to make progress in these investigations. The Commissioner seems to have a slightly different interpretation of events.

Commissioner Conroy

I am just speaking as a policeman. Those were difficult times in Northern Ireland. I have spoken and dealt with RUC officers down through the years. We have spoken about the problems they were having with investigations and the number of investigations, involving bombs, murders and what not, rolling out to them every day. They were under awful pressure during those years. Having looked at the files and again reviewed certain areas in what went on at the time with our own people, I am happy that, in the case of crimes in this jurisdiction or in Northern Ireland involving somebody crossing the Border, there were good communications between local police officers. There was excellent co-operation between people involved in the investigation of the unfortunate murder of Ms Carr. There was nothing, from the Garda point of view, that was unavailable to the RUC who were investigating that murder.

That leaves us with a problem in a sense. I genuinely felt if there were a reopening of investigations in certain areas, there was a possibility, with new techniques and new information, that more progress could be made and that one of the key elements missing was total co-operation. Commissioner Conroy is still not saying we were getting total co-operation from the RUC or the British authorities. For instance, Mr. Seán Donlon, when he was before the committee, identified two valuable sets of files he felt would be of value to the investigations, that is, the Laneside papers and the papers from the joint intelligence committee working out of Downing Street. If all that information was available, can Commissioner Conroy see some value in reopening, revisiting or re-examining some of the issues?

Commissioner Conroy

Having looked at the file and how the investigation was conducted, I would not want to build up the hopes of relatives of the victims of those atrocities. I cannot see how at this stage, having looked at the files, we could advance the investigations that were conducted then. It would be wrong of me to come in here and give false hope to those people, and linger on with another look at the investigation and try to do this and that. At this moment, from my professional viewpoint as a police officer, I do not see us being in a position to develop the investigation any further. I am sorry to say that.

I welcome the Garda Commissioner's earlier offer to appoint a liaison officer to work with Justice for the Forgotten. That was one of the issues raised and it may help to advance some of their concerns.

Turning to what he stated earlier about the documentation given to Mr. Justice Barron, the following raised slight confusion in my mind. Commissioner Conroy stated that all the files were given to the Barron inquiry. Then he stated that as the inquiry progressed, more information was made available as requested. I also had this conflict with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Department told us that all files sought were made available. If all the files were made available initially, how was there more stuff becoming available as the report progressed?

Commissioner Conroy

My colleague, Detective Superintendent Callinan, was the liaison officer with Mr. Justice Barron. Naturally, one finds that names appear in investigation files. There might be a reference number in that which quite clearly deals with the individual, who is in this investigation file but who has no relationship really to the second crime. It is personal information on the individual. Those files, some of which are intelligence files, were made available to Mr. Justice Barron. What I am trying to say that they would not be part of an investigation file. The investigation file generally deals with the evidence collected in support of the investigation, whereas we would have separately bits and pieces of information on individuals which one would not put into an investigation file.

Mr. Justice Barron did not see the investigation file on the Clones bombing on 28 December 1972. Is this file missing?

Commissioner Conroy

Yes, it is missing.

Is there any explanation for this?

Commissioner Conroy

There are thousands upon thousands of files in crime security branch. I cannot answer it at this stage. The detective chief superintendent searched diligently for it and did not get it.

Although Commissioner Conroy was not involved at the time, generally the view expressed was that due urgency was not given to the entire investigation and questions were asked about the relationship between the Executive and the Garda at the time. The politicians who came before the sub-committee stated clearly that it was their job to deal with the political side of it and it was the Garda's job to deal with the investigation side of it. Is that what actually happened at the time, that the Garda dealt with the investigation side of it?

Commissioner Conroy

The Garda dealt with the investigative side of it and the Deputy can take it that, from my point of view, they dealt with it in a competent way. The other point is that I have been 40 years in the organisation and I have never suffered interference from any of our political masters on how we should conduct a particular investigation. It is the function of the Garda Síochána to investigate crime and that is the way we see our service. The legislators enact legislation. It is for us, in investigation, to act within that legislation and that is exactly how we do our business.

Former Minister for Justice, Mr. O'Malley, told us that when he was trying to put through some legislation he found it difficult because he could not be hard on the provisionals and on the subversives at the time because the ethos in the area was "be soft", and yet two years later the position turned around entirely, that one could not be hard enough on the subversives in the legislation. Could there have been a parallel thinking within the Garda on the attitude adopted towards subversives? I am looking particularly at the way it comes out in the first matter Senator Walsh raised, the Bríd Carr murder in Donegal, where it was a futile exercise and where the three people were not questioned.

Commissioner Conroy

On that front, as I stated earlier, we look at the legislation. Our training is such that we examine how we can deal, in an investigative sense, with the legislation passed by Parliament. Naturally, the legislators are looking at what is happening on the ground and legislation is continuing to emanate. We at all times take cognisance of that legislation. That is part of our training, to make sure that we always focus on that legislation. There would be no question of us being soft here or there, or anything like that. It is our job. Our primary job is to go out and investigate the various offences in accordance with the legislation in place to deal with the situation.

On the question to which Commissioner Conroy did not have an answer readily available, I refer to a report issued and signed by Inspector T. Meehan to Ms Katherine Douglas dated 9 January 1975, which in response to a number of questions, states "see report dated 10th August 1974."

From what is the Deputy quoting?

I am quoting from a Garda document. I can supply the Commissioner with a copy of the document which, I understand, came from Store Street Garda Station.

Has it been circulated to other members of the sub-committee?

I do not know. I have given a copy to the Garda Commissioner. Perhaps the Commissioner will obtain a copy of the report and make it available to the sub-committee. I appreciate it will require a little searching on his part. I ask that the sub-committee receive a response.

Perhaps the Commissioner will examine the matter and get back to the sub-committee on it as soon as possible.

Commissioner Conroy

I will communicate in writing with it.

I thank the Commissioner. Would he like to make any concluding remarks?

Commissioner Conroy

No.

I thank the Commissioner for attending. I know that, as always, he has been co-operative with the sub-committee. I hope that if we have further questions in regard to the hearings, we can contact him and will receive the same co-operation in the future.

Commissioner Conroy

Yes, Chairman, that co-operation will continue as far as I am concerned.

I thank the Commissioner. Perhaps Detective Superintendent Callinan could remain as we may need to refer to him in our later deliberations with other gardaí. Would that be okay?

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Callinan

Yes.

We will now hear from the Chief-of-Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General James Sreenan. I thank him for attending and look forward to his co-operation. He is accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Rory Kelleher of the Army ordnance corps who has been helpful to us in the past. We are very grateful for his continued help and co-operation. I also welcome Lieutenant Colonel Dermot Igoe. The sub-committee will first hear a presentation by Lieutenant General Sreenan followed by dialogue with Deputy Ó Fearghail and Deputy Costello on behalf of the sub-committee on his comments and other matters in the report.

Lieutenant General James Sreenan

I thank the Cathaoirleach and distinguished members of the sub-committee for the invitation to appear here this morning. I am accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Rory Kelleher, an experienced ordnance and bomb disposal officer representing the director of the ordnance corps which provides our bomb disposal services. Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher appeared before the sub-committee in connection with the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. I am also accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Dermot Igoe who has acted as the Defence Forces' point of contact with Mr. Justice Barron and his team.

The Defence Forces are mindful of the great pain caused to the families and victims of the events of 1972 and 1973, the subject of these hearings. I take this opportunity to extend our sympathy to them in their continuing grief.

I am pleased to note that in his second report Mr. Justice Barron has commented favourably on the level of co-operation received from the Defence Forces. A priority of my predecessor, Colm Mangan, and a continuing priority of mine is that every effort be made by the Defence Forces to facilitate the independent commission of inquiry. I understand a good, effective working relationship developed between the Defence Forces and the commission.

In almost all the cases referred to by the commission the input of the Defence Forces was post-explosion EOD team involvement. The primary purpose was to ensure there were no secondary devices in the immediate vicinity or components which remained in a dangerous state. The task of forensic examination of the scene was one for the Garda Síochána. However, the two forces always operated in a co-operative and professional manner. EOD officers would have been available to assist the Garda in its forensic examination, for example, in trying to assess the type and amount of explosive used and where it had been placed.

Prior to 1969, ordnance corps expertise would have been in the area of the disposal of conventional munitions, for example, sea mines washed ashore. From 1969 onwards, a new kind of expertise was developed in response to the threat from improvised devices. We were at an early stage in that regard in 1972. Currently, the ordnance corps is at the leading edge in dealing with such devices.

There do not appear to be any specific areas of this EOD involvement that require further treatment having been extremely well set out in Mr. Justice Barron's report. However, we remain at the sub-committee's disposal to answer any questions members may have.

I thank Lieutenant General Sreenan.

I welcome Lieutenant General Sreenan and his colleagues, Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher and Lieutenant Colonel Igoe. I note a Mr. Igoe was killed in the first bombing in 1972. Was he any relation of Lieutenant Colonel Igoe's?

Lieutenant Colonel Dermot Igoe

No.

Page 19 of Mr. Justice Barron's report reads: "The Inquiry has continued to receive full co-operation from the Army authorities". We commence our dialogue on a complimentary note. The report further states: "In particular the Inquiry was given access to all the available reports of Explosive Ordnance Disposal . . .". What is meant by "all the available reports"? Were some reports not available?

Lieutenant General Sreenan

To my knowledge, there were no reports that were unavailable to the commission. I take it all the reports were available. I am not aware there were any "missing documents".

All the reports were in place and made available to Mr. Justice Barron.

Lieutenant General Sreenan

That is my understanding.

It is not that Mr. Justice Barron requested certain reports and they were made available.

Lieutenant General Sreenan

As Lieutenant Colonel Igoe was the liaison officer, he may be able to answer that question.

I ask it because that is what appeared to happen within the Garda Síochána. It appears certain reports were requested and made available but that there might possibly be other reports that were not made available.

Lieutenant General Sreenan

I will ask Lieutenant Colonel Igoe to elaborate on that point as he dealt with Mr. Justice Barron on the matter.

Lieutenant Colonel Igoe

The following paragraph might explain the remark about the availability of reports. Mr. Justice Barron goes on to point out that prior to 1973, reports were not made out for all attendances at EOD scenes. My colleague, Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher, may wish to elaborate further on the matter.

Lieutenant Colonel Rory Kelleher

Prior to 1973, as Lieutenant General Sreenan mentioned, the ordnance corps was involved in conventional disposal. This changed with the arrival of improvised devices in 1969 and 1970. At the time the EOD officer was called out post-explosion. If, in co-operation with the Garda, he or she could find nothing of interest, a negative report was not submitted. There was nothing of interest that he could find in co-operation with the Garda. He did not normally submit a negative report. In other words, there was no report done because there was nothing of interest.

The conclusion then is that very little information is extant from that period because it was the custom that they were not necessarily committed to writing.

Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher

The Deputy is absolutely correct.

Thank you. Throughout the entire series of bombings, particularly in Dublin, there appears to have been very little residue for the Army disposal team to look at and the Army seemed to be turning uppost factum. For example after the bomb on 1 December it was the following morning before the Army disposal team arrived. There is a description in Barron that there was a considerable number of suspect devices around and that the Army disposal team was running from Billy to Jack. Can the witnesses elaborate on the atmosphere at the time and the type of work the Army was doing in relation to the alarms?

Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher

I think the Barron report gives a good account of the second bombing that is referred to, where two ordnance officers spent the night. They would be called by the Garda to go to a particular scene and I think they were called to go to the actual scene of the explosion anden route they were diverted by gardaí to other incidents. I would not call them hoaxes. There is a very good account given by Barron of two officers who spent the night coming and going in dealing with hoaxes. I can recall, not in relation to 1972, that there was a figure in the early 1970s in one particular year where in the order of 500 bomb hoaxes was the tally for the entire year. It always is the case that after an explosion everybody becomes much more aware. It would be incorrect to call them hoaxes but you always have a number of scares where people genuinely see something that they would never have seen before the explosion. Everybody becomes acutely aware and in many cases you have genuine causes for concern and added to that there will be quite a number of hoaxers.

That is vividly described in page 52 — perhaps the witnesses can look at it — where Captain P. J. Trears gives an account of what happened on 1 and 2 December. It lists a range of areas to which he was called. The last line on the page reads: "At 1130 hours Chief Superintendent Doherty requested that I examine the scene of the previous night at Liberty Hall and Sackville Street." These are the areas where the people were killed and the most serious incident of all took place. It would seem a little late to examine it the following morning.

Lieutenant General Sreenan

It was late and Captain Trears would not be examining it from the forensic point of view. He would be examining it from the point of view of any dangerous materials that were left at the site and from that point of view it is a little bit late. In those days bodies were removed very quickly, fire brigades moved into action very quickly, gardaí were on the scene, Garda ballistics experts would have been on the scene and it would have become quickly apparent that there was very little residue or very little left at the scene. Captain Trears' going there would have very little to offer from the point of view of forensic examination.

We move on to page 53. This relates largely to Lieutenant Colonel P. J. McCourt who was the Officer Commanding, Army Ordnance Corps Depot, at the time. He drew up a series of diagnostic recommendations on what should take place. He wrote to Chief Superintendent Joy asking that they be circulated. Barron concludes later on that they do not seem to have been circulated with the result that the new up-to-date measures proposed by Lieutenant Colonel P. J. McCourt had not been put in place in the context of the 1974 bombings. Can the witnesses throw any light on this matter that proposals were made on how to deal with the bomb sites and it was recommended that they be circulated to gardaí? Is there any information on what happened to those and why they do not seem to have been circulated?

Lieutenant General Sreenan

Before I pass to Colonel Kelleher who may have some knowledge of it, these were recommendations made by Colonel McCourt. I do not know how definitive they were. It is surprising to me that they were not put together by the director of the ordnance. They were just his personal observations and an attempt to be helpful, I am sure, by him. They were to be circulated within the Garda system as opposed to within the military. I could not be sure whether they were circulated or not. I do not know whether Colonel Kelleher has anything to add.

Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher

Not really. It appears from the documents that Colonel McCourt gave recommendations. I am not aware of those recommendations at this stage or what they were and whether they were incorporated into Garda procedures after that.

Lieutenant General Sreenan

We were in the midst of a very steep learning curve at this time. Prior to 1969 all our work would have been with conventional munitions — a sea mine washed up, an old hand grenade from the Civil War or the War of Independence. This was the type of work. All of the work within, say, the east was carried out by one particular lieutenant colonel, the man in charge. He was the expert. Suddenly, we had incidents in Donegal, Cork, in the Border and in Dublin and a huge number of people had to be trained and brought up to speed. It was trying to keep in touch with every device that was found and was dismantled. The information on that would be disseminated and people would be brought together and discussions would take place on what was found and how it might be disarmed and dismantled. It was learning on the hoof as it were. In relation to the Garda, it would be fair to say the same was going on. I think there would have been personal contacts and personal protocols established as people became acquainted with each other, Garda and Army.

May I ask about the last paragraph on page 48, dealing with the Eden Quay and Sackville Place bombing, which reads:

On 13 December 1972, C/Supt Wren wrote to the Army Director of Intelligence, enclosing copies of the issue ofFógra Tora containing the photofit of the man who hired the cars. He suggested that the picture be shown to members of the Defence Forces — in particular, to anyone who had attended Ordnance or other courses in Britain.

Is there any information to suggest that took place?

Lieutenant Colonel Igoe

The letter was received. There is a record of the letter being received but we have no record of the follow-up action. We presume that it was circulated in the manner that Chief Superintendent Wren had requested at the time.

Is there nothing on file now?

Lieutenant Colonel Igoe

No.

Or any response?

Lieutenant General Sreenan

There would have been a very small throughput of people on courses in Britain at this time. It may have been one or two individuals over the course of a year. I am sure if it was done it probably would be done on a personal basis rather than in written form.

I welcome Lieutenant General Sreenan, Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher and Lieutenant Colonel Igoe. Perhaps they would say a few words about the process of Army intelligence gathering at the time and the extent to which they shared intelligence with the Garda Síochána and if there was any sharing of intelligence with the British Army or the RUC at that period?

Lieutenant General Sreenan

I think the Deputy would be probably well aware that the Army then, as of today, operated in support of the Garda and the Garda had primacy of operations. We did not communicate with the RUC, we did not communicate with the British forces in Northern Ireland. Our intelligence co-operation with the gardaí would have been in early days but from the time we established military posts on the Border and became involved in operations with the Garda we started to institute a series of regular meetings, and the local military commander would have held these meetings with the divisional chief superintendent. Fairly formal meetings were held, perhaps on a monthly basis, and in addition to that there were many informal meetings. Military intelligence officers visited Garda stations or arranged to meet local detectives. Personal contacts were built up and a fairly good sharing of information and intelligence would have occurred in that way at that time.

Having regard to the fact that there were five car bombs in the period December 1972 to January 1973, would any body of intelligence have been built up by the Irish Army regarding loyalist subversives?

Lieutenant General Sreenan

It is fair to say that our forces would have been involved in attempting to build up a profile on the organisations the Deputy mentioned in regard to their capacity and intent. Smaller incidents would have fed into the picture but our focus would have been on trying to form a strategic picture of the intent of these organisations at the higher level. Yes, profiles would have been established.

Lieutenant General Sreenan, thank you for appearing before the committee and helping us better examine the report. I also thank Lieutenant Colonel Kelleher and Lieutenant Colonel Igoe for their co-operation with the commission as well as with this committee.

Lieutenant General Sreenan

Thank you, Chairman. We wish the committee well in its deliberations.

Thank you. You are excused.

We will now hear from members of the Garda who were involved in the investigation of the atrocities that occurred so that they can help us in whatever way they can in our consideration of the report.

I thank you for coming in to assist us in our consideration of the Barron report on the bombings of 1972-1973 and other atrocities at the time. I welcome Mr. Brian Garvey, retired chief superintendent; Mr. Hubert Reynolds, retired detective superintendent; Éamon Ó Fiacháin, retired detective sergeant; and Mr. Martin Hogan, retired detective inspector. You are all welcome to our hearings. I understand these atrocities occurred more than 30 years ago, that you are now retired from the force and that you do not have direct access to the file but I hope you will be able to give us some assistance in regard to the general ambience and what was happening within the Garda and in the investigations generally over that period.

Members of the committee have privilege in what we say but that same privilege does not apply to you. Also, there may be some recollection of the extent of the co-operation you may have had with your RUC counterparts at the time about which we would like to hear. Perhaps Mr. Reynolds would like to start by making a brief statement.

Mr. Hubert Reynolds

In 1973, I was a detective inspector attached to the Garda technical bureau, the investigations section, and our function was to investigate all serious crime. On January I went to Buncrana to assist in the investigation into the murder of Ms Breege Porter and Mr. Boyce. We had set up an incident room in Buncrana Garda station; that was the headquarters for the investigation. It followed the usual lines of any investigation — establishing the movements of the deceased prior to death; their background; and the movements of many people who were around the area of Burnfoot and Buncrana during the day, and particularly that night. There was a particular problem that night. It being New Year's Eve there was a nightclub or a ballroom there and there was a function on that night attended by about 1,500 people. One can imagine the traffic that generated and all the movements at the critical time we believe and have established that the murder occurred, roughly around 1 a.m. or around that time.

There was always the added problem of the location of the scene of the murder. It was in such close proximity to the Border. Very early on in the investigation we established that the perpetrators most likely came from Northern Ireland, around the Derry area. That was confirmed to us later on in the investigation through the co-operation of the RUC. We set up a liaison service between the Garda and the RUC in Derry, and there was very good co-operation between the two forces. Naturally, we could not go in to carry out any of our function in Derry or in Northern Ireland. We were depending on them to make the necessary inquiries and feed the information back to us.

All the usual procedures of an investigation were followed. It was a very thorough investigation. It went on from 1 January, continued on and did not finish until into March and even after that things arose. One of the problems in the course of the investigation, as we went on, was the searches and so on. Guns were found on three suspects and they were brought in for ballistic examination. A number of samples were taken. They had to be processed through the laboratory in Belfast or England. We could not have done that ourselves without the co-operation of the RUC, and they co-operated with us on that.

Thank you, Mr. Reynolds. Mr. Garvey, do you wish to contribute?

Mr. Brian Garvey

My function was in relation to the bombings in 1972. It was established that one of the cars used to carry the explosives had been hired out in Belfast and whatever liaison arrangements were in place at the time, through those arrangements I was sent to Belfast where members of the RUC received me. Necessary protection was arranged and so on. I think I went to the airport and got some documentation there. My function would have been twofold or maybe more but certainly I wanted to get the original documentation used to hire the cars with a view to treating the document for fingerprints. I wanted to establish who else might have handled the document with a view to getting fingerprints of people who had, let us say, legitimate reasons for handling the document. I wanted to establish who had written the various material on the document. I am sure I did not want to leave Belfast without establishing this, which I did. I recall I had a difficulty with some document because it had gone back to headquarters in London.

I then went to London where, through the co-operation of the police, I went to the headquarters of some of the big hiring companies, maybe Hertz or Avis, where I got documents. When I brought them back, their treatment fell to Detective Inspector Hogan — he was not in that rank at the time. He treated the documents for fingerprints and it was established eventually that some of the marks had been made by people with legitimate access to the documents and others — we never established who made those. It might have been assumed that they were the fingermarks of the culprit in the case.

That leads us directly to former Detective Inspector Hogan.

I joined the fingerprints unit in 1967 and retired in 1996. At the time in question I was at the scene in Burgh Quay and Sackville Place. We got a number of documents and brought them all back. I found my notebook in the case but not the file. I have what I found at the scene at the different areas. One was a book in connection with the Hillman motorcar but this had been destroyed with water and did not yield any marks when we examined it at the time. Later, I received the documents from Chief Superintendent Garvey. I processed them and a number of marks developed. A number of these had been made by the innocent people who had handled the documents but there were four left, especially in relation to the motorcar — 9551 VZ.

What would happen is that anything I would find with names or addresses on it at the scene would be handed over to the investigating people. We would not work in isolation. If we found books or anything like that with names on them or in articles, or papers with any addresses, we would pass copies on to the investigating team and they would carry on from there. When I was contacted to make copies of the marks available, I transferred them to C3 at the time, the security branch, and they transferred them to the RUC.

All during that time we would have had contact with the people in the fingerprints section in the RUC, Scotland Yard, Glasgow and Cardiff. I would have been on personal terms with a good few people there. It remained so until I retired. At this time the inspector in charge of the fingerprints section would have been in liaison with the fingerprints chief in the RUC bureau. He would say to me from time to time, "There's nothing doing in your case yet." I did not get this directly from the RUC but would say he had been on to the person because he had said it to me.

I thank Mr. Hogan.

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

At the time of the incidents, these various bomb occurrences, I was the senior detective sergeant in the ballistics section. I was second to the member in charge, the late Detective Inspector O'Connor. I should say, first, that the ballistics section was then and I suppose still is the busiest section in the technical bureau from the point of view of the amount of work done. Certainly, a miscellany of duties and obligations are imposed on members of the ballistics section because, as the name ballistics suggests, the work of the section has always included a lot more than dealing with guns and explosives. Anything not covered by the fingerprints section, the photographic section, the mapping section or the handwriting section was always referred to and dealt with by the ballistics section.

Being the senior detective sergeant in the section, a lot of my time was taken up with training, lecturing to trainee detectives and scene of crime examiners. A lot of time was also taken up by court work. The work extended far beyond the examination of guns and explosives. Murder cases, housebreaking cases and fatal hit and run cases were all referred to the ballistics section. This involved a lot of attendances at court. Therefore, members of the section would be away from it very often attending court, inquests and so on.

Having explained the situation in the ballistics section, priority was always accorded, had to be accorded, to those cases in which persons had been charged because dates for trial had been fixed and it was necessary to have statements, evidence ready for production in court to enable the trials to proceed. Therefore, these cases had to take priority over all other cases.

I personally investigated the explosion at the film centre cinema on 26 November 1972 and the one in Sackville Place on 20 January 1973. I also attended at the scene of the car bomb in South Leinster Street, Clare Street, around the same time. I have a difficulty in that I do not have my files. I last had them at the inquest which was held early last year. On that occasion, at the end of the inquest, a chief superintendent who was in charge of the Garda witnesses, took the file. He was to return it to me but I have not received it yet. Therefore, all I have before me is what the sub-committee very kindly let me have — the report on its investigation so far. Otherwise, I am going on memory which would not be too good after 32 or 33 years, since my retirement from the Garda. I dealt directly with the explosion at the film centre cinema on 26 November 1972, at Sackville Place on 20 January 1973 and the car bomb explosion in South Leinster Street at about the same time.

I thank Éamon Ó Fiacháin. I will ask Deputies Hoctor and Finian McGrath to engage in dialogue with him.

I welcome the various speakers. I am glad Mr. Callinan has remained also to provide clarification, if needed. I will start with a general question. How many gardaí were working in Dublin city at that time, in view of the atrocities that were threatened and had obviously occurred? Can any figure be given?

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

How many gardaí in Dublin were working on the investigation?

Yes. How many gardaí were working in Dublin city at that time? Was there an increase in numbers in view of the atrocities?

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

I would not be in a position to answer that question.

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

I am sorry.

Will Deputy Hoctor address a question to an individual garda if she would not mind?

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

I think somebody in senior administration in the Dublin metropolitan area would probably be in a better position to answer that question. I would have no idea.

I will clarify my question. Last year during the Barron report hearings it was made clear to us that 50 gardaí had been immediately commissioned to investigate — as an additional number — once the bombings had occurred in 1974. I was interested to know but accept Mr. Ó Fiacháin might not have the figure available.

Detective Chief Superintendent, Martin Callinan, was involved and may be able to help in that regard.

Detective Chief Superintendent Callinan

Traditionally, it has always been the situation in the Garda Síochána, when serious crimes of this nature occur, that we draw on the experiences of as many personnel as is required. I am satisfied from a perusal of the files — naturally I did not examine them in any great forensic detail — that there were in excess of 50, given the volume of statements taken. It has always been the case that we gather as many as are required to do a particular job. One can imagine with three atrocities happening in 1974 within a very short period of time and again in the case the sub-committee is now looking at, that there would have been a very big effort put into the investigations of those offences. In the circumstances, extra gardaí would have been drafted in from wherever was required.

Mr. Reynolds referred to the murders of Oliver Boyce and Breege Porter and the investigation in which he had been involved in County Donegal at the time. Mr. Hugo Boyce, brother of Oliver, was at our hearings during the week. On page 114 Mr. Justice Barron states it was most likely that they drove themselves alone to the Glen Road but Mr. Hugo Boyce was quite adamant that was a long distance away and refuted the comments of Mr. Justice Barron. I would be interested to hear Mr. Reynolds's comments.

Mr. Reynolds

The position was that a number of witnesses had seen the lights of cars but could not give any description of the particular cars. They had heard hooters but in pinpointing exactly who had driven the car up the Glen Road, some suggested that it had not been driven by Boyce or Porter but we never established for definite who drove on the Glen Road in the car.

Would Mr. Reynolds agree with the opinion at the time that this was a sectarian murder, that they were killed because they were Catholics?

Mr. Reynolds

According to what we had gathered in the course of interviews with the different suspects, they had been sort of told to go in and get somebody. I think they were the words they used but they did not identify them, as far as I know, as being two Catholics or two Protestants. They knew they had an Éire registration on the car and that they were probably from the locality. They do not appear to have had any information or knowledge as to their identity.

On Mr. Reynolds's work with the Army bomb disposal people, was there a conflict with the local authorities and the fire brigade services in that items had been washed away? He referred to the book found in the Avenger car. Was there a difficulty whereby the local authority did not always work in conjunction with the Garda or Army personnel?

Mr. Reynolds

I was not involved in the investigation into the bombings here in Dublin and I would not be giving evidence on it.

It was I who mentioned it. One can picture, when this outrage happened, that everything was on fire. Loads of other cars had gone on fire as well. There were buildings with glass flying in all directions. The whole place was on fire and it had to be quenched. When the fire brigade hoses were turned on, they did not really know which was the offending car because everything would have been in a melee. I would say that is what happened — their function was to get the scene under control as soon as possible.

I have another question on the bombings on 1 December. The first went off at almost 8 o'clock and the next 15 minutes later in Sackville Place. What communications systems were in place for the Garda at the time? Obviously, there were no mobile phones. I suppose one heard information and the evidence was available visually.

At the time I was an inspector in the bureau at John's Road. We were notified very quickly from control which was based at headquarters in Harcourt Terrace, or Harcourt Square. They were the ones who always called us when an outrage happened. They even had our home numbers. Therefore, they were on the telephone within minutes to alert us if something happened. In this case, I think we got there about 9 o'clock. It came straight to the technical bureau at the time.

I welcome our guests and express my appreciation for their co-operation and coming to our hearings. I wish to ask Mr. Hogan about his particular job. Page 50 of the Barron report states that he actually found the handbook from the Hillman Avenger bomb car near Liberty Hall? Is that correct?

That is correct.

No fingerprints were found on the handbook.

No. The book was saturated with water. With all our systems at the time for developing prints, water was the greatest enemy. It was not possible to get fingermarks from it with the chemicals and development techniques we had at the time.

Even when Mr. Hogan dried out the book, there was no possibility of getting any fingerprints.

No, not at that point.

I think Mr. Hogan found a piece of putty beside the book. Is that right?

That is right.

Is there an innocent explanation for that or what is your view on it?

When the explosion went off, lots of windows were blown in and out all over the place. At the time we were grasping at straws. We were considering if putty would have been put around a bomb to make it more compact before the explosion. That is why we took possession of it but as I went around to the glaziers and they checked it out, they said it was more than likely that it had come from one of the windows or doors. They said often times when a person finished a job and if there was a gap, they would often put a lump of putty into the gap to just finish it off. We fingerprinted a lot of people from the glazing companies but were unable to identify the mark.

From his point of view, Mr. Hogan was satisfied that he had done as much as possible to gather any fingerprints in the bomb site area. He is satisfied that the maximum effort was made.

That is right. Everything that could have been done was done.

I wish to switch to Mr. Garvey in regard to page 51. The third paragraph states that while the marks are identifiable, they are only suitable for comparison with named suspects because of a limited area of ridged detail visible. On page 51 it is stated:

While the marks are identifiable they are only suitable for comparison with named suspects because of the limited area of ridge detail visible. Photographic copies of the marks were sent to RUC Headquarters for check. A report is awaited.

The inquiry has seen nothing in the Garda files to suggest a report was sent back by the RUC. Is it possible a verbal report was given or did the matter end there?

Mr. Garvey

Inspector Hogan referred to that. There were verbal reports in the sense that he was in touch with fingerprint personnel in the RUC who informed him that no progress had been made. There was not any positive information forthcoming. The reports he was receiving indicated that there was no progress on his case, which was quite common.

No progress at all.

Mr. Garvey

That arose because he knew, on a personal basis, people working in the section up there.

I will now ask Mr. Reynolds about the murders of Breege Porter and Oliver Boyce. The sub-committee heard submissions on this from the families last week. It is stated on page 115 that the only matter upon which the inquiry can be certain is that the gun which was used in the murder was found in the possession of a particular person — I will not name him here — and that it seems probable the knife used was that found in the possession of another person. Both of these individuals were members of the UDA. There appears to be a great deal of evidence available but the families are of the opinion that not enough was done. How does Mr. Reynolds respond to that? Is the evidence merely circumstantial, hearsay or whatever?

Mr. Reynolds

The report uses the term "the only matter upon which the Inquiry can be certain". It was pretty well established, even in their own submissions, that there were two guns, a .32 and a .38, and that there was another type of gun as well. There was also the dagger or knife that was found in Little's room. Some of them admitted to possessing those weapons. Little admitted that he had got the dagger from his girlfriend some time previously. They also admitted that they used the guns in some raids in the North prior to that. It was established that they did have possession of those firearms at the time.

Yet nothing happened and they were not charged.

Mr. Reynolds

One of them was charged. Files were prepared and an incident occurred. One of those guns was brought to the laboratory in Belfast. Between the time it was left in and the finalising of the file, there was a break-in at the laboratory and that particular gun and other material were stolen. That evidence was, therefore, lost. That was the evidence submitted by the investigation team to the DPP and it was over to him then. One of them was charged in Dublin but he was acquitted.

I thank Mr. Reynolds. Having heard the families' submissions and read page 115 of the report, it is amazing that there was not enough strong evidence and that serious charges were not brought.

I will now ask Éamon Ó Fiacháin to comment on the ballistics section. In his opinion, during the period in question, 1972 to 1973, was the section up to international standards in terms of the various aspects of ballistics? He stated that there was a great deal of training going on at that time.

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

I could not say it was up to international standards. It was up to the standards with which we were familiar in England, at London and Durham, and Scotland. We had attended courses dealing with investigation of bombings at these places and were familiar with their operations. Various members of the section had spent time with the bomb squads in these places and discussed affairs with them. I would be satisfied that we were reasonably up to the standards obtaining then in these countries.

I will leave my final question open to our five guests. In light of their professional policing backgrounds, their reading of the Barron report and their investigations into these matters, who do they believe bombed Dublin in 1972 and 1973? Were the bombings strictly the province of loyalist paramilitaries or was their an aspect of collusion? Many of the families are of the opinion it was not just loyalists and that there is evidence of collusion.

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

I can speak only personally. Following my inquiries and investigations, I did not find anything that would indicate a particular origin. Suspicions are another matter. I am not dealing in suspicions.

Would any of our other guests like to respond?

If not, is there anyone who wishes to offer any final remarks or is everyone satisfied? We thank Brian Garvey, Hubert Reynolds, Éamon Ó Fiacháin and Martin Hogan for appearing before us today.

Éamon Ó Fiacháin

Speaking for myself and, I am sure, for the others, if there are any other matters that arise we would be quite prepared to come back and deal with them.

I thank our guests. We will now move on to consider the historical context of the period again.

I welcome Mr. Sean Garland and former Deputy Tomás Mac Giolla. I remind our guests that while Members of the Oireachtas enjoy privilege in these matters, they do not. We have invited Mr. Garland and Tomás Mac Giolla to appear before us in an effort to learn more about the historical context of the period and what was happening then. We would be grateful if they would make some comments in that regard. Senator Walsh and Deputy Murphy, on behalf of the committee, will then pose some questions and enter further dialogue with them. Time is of the essence because we have a commitment for 11.30 a.m. and we want to conclude at that time if possible.

Mr. Sean Garland

I thank the Chairman. I have a statement, copies of which I could distribute to members of the committee. I recognise that time is short.

We have read the report from Mr. Justice Barron and there are a couple of points we would like to make. In a report inThe Irish Times last week about one of the sub-committee’s hearings it was stated people labelled “republican” were involved in the bombing of the film centre and we wish to comment on that matter.

From the historical record, the events of 1972 were some of the worst in the history of the country from the point of view of the killings and violence that occurred. Opposition to the amendment of the Offences Against the State Act, which was proposed at the time, was one of our primary concerns. We felt that it would not solve any of the problems arising from the violence. The experience of Northern Ireland and the Republic is that repression does not defeat terrorism or alienation. This Act is still on the Statute Book and the present Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has stated on a number of occasions, particularly at one session of the Forum on Europe that he wanted to abolish it. We should press for this to be done as quickly as possible.

In general, we found the Barron report to be very loose and inconclusive. This was to be expected, given that it was difficult to compel witnesses. Mr. Justice Barron was not able to do this. It is generally accepted agents of the British Government, acting knowingly or unknowingly on its behalf, played a major part in creating serious incidents down the years.

I refer to the film centre and all the talk about the Littlejohns and British agents. The Littlejohns were not British agents but criminals who used this as a cover for their own activities. They teamed up with people who lived on the Border or were from Northern Ireland and who played a part in activities against the British army here and there but, in the main, they were solely concerned with enriching themselves. When they were arrested, they used information they gathered from various sources to cut a deal for themselves. In May 1972 the Official IRA called a ceasefire in response to a call from Tomás Mac Giolla to prevent the situation spreading to sectarian civil war.

The report states suspect B and associates were shot dead in 1974 by the British army and, according to the army, this happened while the army was dealing with a beer keg bomb. Another book, Index of Deaths in Northern Ireland, states these two men were shot dead by the British army having been captured; they were murdered. That is not mentioned in the report. The two men in question, Colm Rowntree and Martin McAlinden, were members of the Official IRA. I can state clearly from my experience of the two men that they were not involved or would never be involved in any activity that would lead to the death of innocent people. They were not involved in the bombing of the film centre in Dublin. We do not know who did this bombing or many of the bombings in the city afterwards.

The section of the report dealing with intelligence information demonstrates how gardaí can get caught up in their work like many other people involved in intelligence operations. It is only when one comes to Detective Superintendent Fitzpatrick's report that common sense and clarity come into play when he states, despite what some gardaí were saying about suspects and the Littlejohns, the Littlejohns and suspect B were in jail at the time the bombing took place at the film centre.

I refer to Joe Tiernan's book,The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle. He interviewed Cathal Goulding concerning UVF members and he stated a Jim Hanna claimed the UVF at the instigation of the British Army was responsible for the Dublin bombings in 1972. This is most surprising to us. The idea that Cathal Goulding would give such an interview and not mention it to his friends or close associates is beyond belief. Before Cathal died, we were in close touch with him all the time and he never mentioned once the conversation with Jim Hanna. The fact that Mr. Tiernan did not respond to requests to attend the inquiry speaks for itself.

The Official IRA had contact with and met members of the UVF, the UDA and the Provisional IRA on a number of occasions in an effort to convince these organisations that they should follow the Official IRA and declare a ceasefire and begin to develop a political programme for themselves and the people. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had demonstrated that mass struggle could achieve massive gains if it was properly conducted without violence and terror. The activities of sectarian organisations on both sides of the divide led to the gains made by the civil rights movement being cancelled out.

The history of intelligence organisations around the world is filled with examples of individuals and groups doing things on their own or at the behest of their masters, which are never claimed nor are they held responsible. We believe in this case the British Government has a great deal to answer for and its continuing refusal to take steps, time and effort to make known all it knows is regrettable and if it is sincere about developing a climate of trust and confidence between the two countries, it must perform this necessary task.

Tomás Mac Giolla

I was asked in the letter I received to set the period covered in the report in its historical, political and legislative context, with particular reference to the Offences Against the State Act. These were traumatic times beginning on 30 August 1969 when 400 houses were burned and thousands of men, women and children were made homeless. It was hugely traumatic for the country, North and South, and it was an emotional time. Everybody acted on their emotions on a number of occasions. It occurred again in January 1972 with the shooting dead of civil rights marchers and so on.

The response in 1969 was amazing and enormous. Paddy Devlin and others were on television calling for guns to defend Catholics while Tim Pat Coogan came up with the "IRA, I ran away" slogan, which was pursued for at least two years. That was the preliminary to the setting up of the Provisional IRA and that was its purpose. There was collusion between the Government and the Army in the establishment of the Provisional IRA at that time. Four Army intelligence officers were actively engaged. I can only remember the names of two of them. Everybody knows about Captain Kelly who is still very much active.

People should not be named.

Tomás Mac Giolla

There was a Captain Drohan at the time. He was discovered in some peculiar circumstance under a bridge with a lot of ammunition. He was never heard of after. Army and Government people were involved in the establishment of the Provisional IRA. Naturally, this affected the thinking of people in the British Government and in the North because part of the civil rights campaign was to abolish the B Specials and the special powers Act. The media reported in August 1969 that their Protestant neighbours attacked the Catholics and burned them out. That was totally untrue. Not one of the Protestant neighbours was involved in any way. It was a highly organised programme, organised by the RUC and the B Specials. The B Specials, all of whom had personal arms, did the shooting and the burning. A number of people were killed, including a young Fianna boy, and 400 houses were burned out. The B Specials and the RUC did this. The only three people arrested following that terrible night, were Billy MacMillan, the OC of Belfast, Malachy McGurn, from Lurgan, who was probably the most active civil rights campaigner in the North — he was also active down here — and Proinsias MacAirt, known locally as Frankie Cards. These three men were arrested while not one of those who carried out the dreadful acts were arrested. They were held for three or four weeks throughout August and into September, while Tim Pat Coogan was still continuing with his "IRA, I ran away" campaign.

It was natural that there would be collusion between the British Government and the paramilitaries who were now being organised and armed by the B Specials. Overnight they became a very powerful UDA and UVF, and they remain there still. The collusion was there from the beginning. We knew from the beginning that very close collusion was taking place. We accepted this as being natural and, why not, because the Irish Government was doing the same.

This is the political context that continued throughout. Internment was introduced in August 1971. There was the dreadful shooting down of civil rights marchers in Derry on 30 January 1972. That made 1972 a dreadful year. All these memories are still with these people in Belfast. One can imagine what they were like from 1969 to 1972. It was an exceptionally traumatic time. It was an extraordinarily traumatic time for us also, with the splitting up of the Provisional IRA, the split in Sinn Féin, with a group going off to join the provisionals. We were in the middle of a major campaign against the EEC, the referendum for which took place in May 1972. We were campaigning on this issue in 1971. In November 1971, the British Army surrounded me in Queen's University. The students campaigned and got the British Army to withdraw, and then the RUC took over. Obviously they wanted to intern me, but due to the action of the students, I got out, and they conveyed me down here.

It was a very traumatic time for everyone. It was also a very political time. At the time the EEC was a major issue, particular in working class areas. There were marches in Ballyfermot to preserve the car assembly industry and 3,000 jobs. The slogan was, "Into Europe, out of work". That was the time when Jack Lynch said that if unemployment reached 100,000 he would resign. He did not resign when it reached 200,000. When it reached 300,000 he was not around, but no one else resigned either. It was a case of "Into Europe, out of work" for 20 years, right up to 1993 or 1994.

The context of the Offences Against the State Act was preceded by other issues, including section 31 of the Broadcasting Act, the abolition of juries and setting up the Special Criminal Court, a prisons Bill to allow for prisoners to be taken into military custody in the Curragh, the dismissal of the RTE Authority and the new draconian amendment to an already draconian Offences Against the State Act. We were campaigning in the North for the abolition of the special powers Act, which was abolished in the autumn of 1969. Shortly after that dreadful programme, the B Specials were abolished, the special powers Act was abolished and the RUC appeared unarmed on the streets. RUC traffic cops were patrolling the streets, unarmed, at the end of 1969. Three of the major issues of the civil rights campaign were addressed, and the Provos destroyed the whole thing. Our campaign was for civil rights and we wanted the same down here. That is the political context.

Obviously these events are very much in your mind, Mr. Mac Giolla, and it is something that is integral to your persona. I thank you for coming here and giving that presentation.

In May 1972, when Tomás Mac Giolla called for a ceasefire, what was his position at that stage in Sinn Féin and was he a member of the Official IRA at the time? What position did Cathal Goulding hold at that stage?

Tomás Mac Giolla

I was the President of Sinn Féin at the time. One of the major people with me at the time calling and working for the ceasefire was Malachy McGurn. He was a most important individual at the time, North and South. Malachy and I campaigned for this. My understanding at the time was that Cathal Goulding was the Chief of Staff of the IRA. We worked on him, and he worked on others and so on. The campaign to call a ceasefire went on from January, and eventually it happened in May 1972. I made a speech in Carrickmore in July 1972. This was very effective in our movement in pointing out that no one could be bombed into a republic, and certainly no one could be bombed into a socialist republic. The idea was so outrageous that my speech became our policy from thereon.

I heard the comments of Mr. Garland on Joe Tiernan's book. Joe Tiernan states that there was dialogue between the UVF and Cathal Goulding on working class issues, North and South, dealing with housing, poverty, unemployment and so on. It appears incongruous that these discussions would have gone on without Mr. Mac Giolla's knowledge, given that he was the political wing of that movement.

Mr. Garland

We had meetings with the UVF to discuss such issues. We attempted to develop a situation whereby all violence would cease on all sides. We also had meetings with the UDA and the provisionals, but they did not go on as long as the meetings with the UVF. As I said earlier, there were meetings on other occasions at which Cathal Goulding, I, and others were present.

Tomás Mac Giolla

There were also constant meetings in Long Kesh, which were very effective. Gusty Spence and people like that were there.

I refer to page 83 where there is a reference to contact between Cathal Goulding and Jim Hanna who was in the UVF. This is an alleged quotation from Cathal Goulding. It reads, "He asked me if the Official IRA would be willing to carry out bank robberies in the South and the UVF would claim them, and then obviously there would be a reciprocal arrangement in the North where the Official IRA would claim responsibility for UVF robberies". He said that Army intelligence officers with whom he was in contact in the North asked him to put the proposition to us as they were anxious to bring about a situation in the South where the Dublin Government would be forced to introduce internment. Will Mr. Garland elaborate on that?

Mr. Garland

I have no knowledge whatsoever of any such conversations. It is a crazy situation. Certainly, if Cathal Goulding had been told that, he would have repeated it to us, but I never heard of it. The idea that they wanted to force the introduction of internment in the Republic — that was something we were trying to avoid at all costs. What we were trying to do was to abolish repression and repressive legislation, not introduce it.

Tomás Mac Giolla

When I saw that, the first thing I did was contact people like Seán to find out if he had heard about it. I knew Cathal very well, particularly in his last years when we had very close conversations, yet he never mentioned that. I think that is extraordinarily odd because it is something he would have told me at the time. However, he never mentioned it at any time.

Does Mr. Garland agree there were discussions between the movement and the UVF and UDA, but that he is unaware of the content of those discussions? All right.

I refer finally to the Film Centre bomb on 26 November 1972. I understand that Mr. Garland was familiar with suspect A and suspect B mentioned in the report, who were regarded as Official IRA activists. With regard to suspect C, was he a member of the Official IRA?

Mr. Garland

We are at a loss here because we do not know who Mr. Justice Barron knows as A, B or C. We only surmise that suspect B was one of the persons shot dead by the British Army in 1974, which is stated in the report.

I take it they do not want any people named.

I am not looking for names. I gather from Mr. Garland's original comments that suspect C was actually in jail at the time.

Mr. Garland

This is what Superintendent Fitzpatrick says in the report.

My question is not whether suspect C was involved in this, but was he a member of the Official IRA?

Mr. Garland

If it is the person I think it was, he would not have been a member of the Official IRA. He would have been associated with people who would have been members of the Official IRA. My knowledge of him, with the Littlejohns, was that he was not.

Tomás Mac Giolla

I do not even know how Mr. Garland thinks that.

Mr. Garland

I can give his name.

Mr. Garland does not have privilege. He must be related to the Littlejohns. Obviously, Mr. Garland is disclaiming any knowledge of involvement with them.

Mr. Garland

The Littlejohns had created a kind of situation where they travelled around talking to many people on the fringes of different organisations. Certainly, I never had any contact with any of them and neither had Cathal Goulding to my knowledge.

I thank Tomás Mac Giolla and Mr. Garland for coming before the committee and helping us in this regard.

We will now move to the Justice for the Forgotten team which is represented by Ms Margaret Urwin, its secretary. Mr. Greg O'Neill acts as solicitor for the group and Cormac Ó Dúlacháin and Micheál O'Connor are part of the legal team. Cormac Ó Dúlacháin will speak first and questions will follow from Deputies Costello and Ó Feargail.

Cormac Ó Dúlacháin

We have had the benefit of a number of days hearings before this committee. It is important to bring the committee back to the basis for the Barron report and what gave rise to that process. It arises out of a series of events in the 1970s specifically involving car bombings in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976. These all have a common denominator, namely, that none of them were ever solved and that there is a pool of injured victims and families of deceased. These victims and families have had the common experience of never being informed about the process of Garda investigations nor being seen as material to those investigations. They have felt in many respects that they were left aside. Suspicions were aired at the time and over the years since as to who exactly was responsible for the various bombings. That question has never been satisfactorily answered for them. This process is an attempt to address that.

It was interesting to talk to some of the families after Mr. Dessie O'Malley spoke to the committee yesterday. He placed great emphasis on the fact that in 1972 the State was, effectively, faced with a threat from three illegal organisations, the Official IRA, the Provisional IRA and Saor Éire. He was talking to a group of relatives whose families had been devastated by another threat, a threat from a fourth force of some loyalist nature, with questions of whether a fifth force — a military force — was involved either behind or with it. These threats did not seem to enter the official thinking or discussions and the whole emphasis in Mr. O'Malley's presentation was on a threat from one direction.

Mr. O'Malley spoke about the Dáil being defended by 300 soldiers on the night of 1 December 1972, whereas it appears the real threat was on the north side of the city where two bombs were placed and two busmen lost their lives. The families know there is no such thing as absolute security and that there is no way the State can protect everyone in every place at every time. However, in many respects what they had expected and believed was that if their loved one's life was taken, the State would respond to that and those responsible would be sought out.

What emerges from the discussion today is that there can be a confusion. There are two levels to the question of who was responsible. Obviously, the Garda approached the issue first on the basis of a criminal investigation. However, there is a second sense to the question. It is the type of question that has been asked forcefully in the past few years, in New York after 11 September 2001 and in Madrid more recently. It is a broader public and political question of who is responsible, who poses the threat and what society is doing about it.

The common denominator, starting with 1 December, is a very strong emphasis coming through the media, political statements, political discussions, and even apparent from the Garda investigation, that there was a feeling, belief and suspicion that something more was behind the bombing of 1 December 1972 than simply a terrorist incident. The political significance of the timing and of the effect were all matters that were discussed and emphasised. However, the question has not been answered as to what exactly happened that night and who was responsible.

At one level what has been of assistance is the Garda Commissioner coming in today and making what is a very important concession. Perhaps "concession" is the wrong word and "development" is a more important word. The fact that families can have a direct liaison with the Garda and enter into a relationship with them may mean they will get answers to the many questions they have. It became very obvious as the gardaí who were involved in some aspect of the investigation spoke today that there is far more detail about these investigations and what was done than comes through the Barron report or simply comes through the reading of statements. It is very important for families who have had no prosecution to have the opportunity of engaging with those who were involved in investigations and of hearing the greater detail of what was done because it was done on their behalf.

It is not a State secret to hear the detail of the investigation in Buncrana or to be made aware for the first time, as we heard today, that exhibits in that investigation disappeared from the forensic laboratory in Northern Ireland. The fact that came to light from a discussion with the investigating gardaí illustrates the importance of that relationship. While the Commissioner did not see the merit of further investigation at this stage, in various submissions we have put before the sub-committee, we have indicated the continued existence of fingerprints, photofits, the identity of suspects and issues that can be subjected to further examination and investigation. Whether they will lead to prosecutions is another matter but they deserve to be looked at, considered and investigated.

What is noticeable in listening to the gardaí is how much further the process would have gone if one had had members of the RUC involved in the parallel investigation. Each of these incidents involved criminal offences in Northern Ireland. Each of these tests of vehicles had to be the subject of an investigation. Each kidnapping had to be the subject of an investigation, yet Barron has seen none of the RUC files on any of these incidents. If one goes on to consider what is really at the core of this issue, it is the response of the British Government.

It is extraordinary that two letters have come to light at this committee hearing. The first is in response to a letter by Martin Douglas who wrote to his MP in England, Nigel Evans. On 10 January Tony Blair signed a letter sent to Nigel Evans but effectively directed to Mr. Douglas. He said, "It is entirely understandable that those who have suffered the loss of loved ones still yearn to find out what happened. The British Government is committed to doing what it can to give those people the best chance of achieving that". On the same day Tony Blair writes to the Taoiseach and concludes, "It is our judgment, given our experience of the scale of the task in identifying the relevant material in the Dublin-Monaghan and Dundalk bombings, it would not be possible to conduct another major search through our records for material relating to the 1972-73 bombings within the timescale of the inquiry". In one letter it is committed to doing everything it can but in the other it simply is too time-consuming or involves too many resources. That has to be identified for what it is — an absolute lie.

The sub-committee heard Mr. Donlon say very clearly yesterday in his evidence that in his experience files and records of governments bear record numbers, dates and references to material contained in them. They are effectively codified and collected under various Departments and kept in a format that makes them accessible. At the outset Barron was told by the British Government that there were 64,000 files. What is relevant is not the number of files but the ease with which they can be accessed. These events happened in 1972-73. They are the first files that are relevant.

The second aspect in relation to files is that Mr. O'Malley tried to give the impression yesterday that the PSNI, when established, rid itself of all the files held by the RUC. There is no basis for that suggestion. The one thing that is certain about Northern Ireland is that for the last 30 years it has been an experiment in information-gathering and collating. If there is any place where there is a system of information management and for accessing information, it is Northern Ireland.

For the last three years we have visited the national archives in England to look at whatever files have been released. They do not adopt an overly conservative approach. In fact, there is greater access to contemporary files relating to Irish affairs in the national archives in England than there is in the National Archives in Dublin. From our examination of those files, it is very clear that they are very easily identified and accessed. Within a short period of time one becomes very aware of the personalities involved, the type of information gathered and the lines of reporting.

To turn around at the outset of the Barron process and try to create a fog of information around figures such as 68,000 files was a deception which has caused the Barron inquiry to take nearly five years to come to fruition. At the end of the process, in a letter dated 10 January directed to one victim, it is said they are committed to doing the best but they then tell the Irish Government two things — the first directed to the recommendation of this sub-committee — "No, we will not establish a Cory-style inquiry into the 1974 bombings" and, second, in relation to Mr. Justice Barron's request, "It would not be possible to conduct a search in the timescale of the inquiry".

The timescale of the inquiry started four years ago; it did not start on 10 January 2005. Effectively, what faces the sub-committee is as follows. In our submission these are the matters the sub-committee has to focus on. First, it should endorse the process being recommended by the Garda Commissioner because it is a very important advance, of relevance not alone to the victims of these atrocities but of many other atrocities also. Second, it has to acknowledge that it cannot simply shut up shop and accept Tony Blair's letter as an end. Effectively, it can keep this question alive and can do so in a number of ways. It has yet to receive two further reports from Mr. Justice Barron. It can come back when all these reports have been received and, in a fuller sense, consider the question of what evidence has emerged in relation to collusion, what should be done about it and how it can be further inquired into.

If the British Government is not even willing to consider searching its files to provide whatever innocent information may be available, the Oireachtas is not powerless; it can extend the terms of a commission of investigation to at least accept further evidence of collusion. It might not need to investigate or inquire but at least there can be a source to which that evidence could be taken and subjected to further scrutiny. Second, it can decide that it will not back off and will review its decision not to hold a public inquiry. It may reconsider the recommendation in the light of that response. Third, it can do what other governments have done. Specifically in relation to the Lockerbie bombing, the American legislature decided to change its laws. It removed sovereign immunity in respect of claims involving State involvement in terrorist acts where those actions at present cannot be the matter of any court cases in this jurisdiction. The Americans and various state legislators changed their laws. If there was a problem, they simply removed it by law.

The committee can take a number of initiatives. Our submission today essentially states that this issue must be kept alive. It is absolutely unacceptable that the letter from Tony Blair should be accepted as a final note or as the end of the Barron process. It does not end there. Through the Good Friday Agreement, the Government committed itself to a process designed ultimately to ensure a society free of all violence. By focusing on these bombings we have probably brought back to people's minds the absolute horror involved with the worst form of killing and murder, which is a public service in itself. However, we must focus on this on the basis that subversives, unlawful individuals and states are not beyond the law or beyond answer and should be amenable to investigation. This committee can keep the issue alive by simply refusing to issue a final report in which it closes the affair and wraps up.

I thank Cormac Ó Dúlacháin. Yesterday I received a letter from the Northern Ireland Office, dated 1 February, signed personally by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Paul Murphy, which states:

The present British Government welcomed the extension of Mr. Justice Barron's inquiry into the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 and I continue to have a close personal interest in his work.

We take all of Justice Barron's requests for information seriously and seek to address these diligently where we can. However, as I have explained to Justice Barron and to the Taoiseach, it was our judgement at the time of Justice Barron's approach regarding the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 that we were not able to begin the further major and time-consuming search through records of various departments which would be necessary to assemble the material. I fear that there is therefore nothing further I could usefully add, either in writing or orally before your sub-committee, on this question.

Through the committee secretariat I have written a letter to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland asking for specific documentation on the Laneside papers and the joint intelligence committee, JIC, papers relating specifically to these matters. We are awaiting a response in this regard. We have not closed the book on this matter.

I thank Cormac O Dúlacháin and members of Justice for the Forgotten for their contribution not just today but also over the years. We have seen from the testimony given to the committee by the survivors and by families of the victims how much that group contributed when nobody else was available to help. I refer to our terms of reference, which require us within three months of having public hearings to report on any further necessary action. We are at the stage of public hearings, which are coming to a close.

We have heard the recommendations from the Justice for the Forgotten group. The victims and their families are frustrated and angry that information was not available to them and that they have not seen justice done. On the first point, that of information, we have heard from the Garda Commissioner this morning and from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on a previous day. They both came forward with proposals. The Garda Commissioner said he is prepared to make information available through the files and have direct contact with the victims. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform seemed to say he was prepared to establish a victims' charter and perhaps an ombudsman and liaise with the victims. I understand from Justice for the Forgotten that the Garda Commissioner's report was very welcome. Does it feel the approach by both the Garda Commissioner and the Minister is correct?

Cormac Ó Dúlacháin

The important matter is the openness of the engagement. On the first point, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform invited the committee itself to view the files in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform regarding a number of matters. Having been given that option it is important for the committee to avail of it. It is an historic step for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to say to parliamentarians that these files are open to them to view. As a public service, it is important for the members of the committee to take up this offer. The Minister's second step was to indicate a greater openness to allow researchers and historical archivists access to his Department's files. This seems to be subject to caveats and the process still needs to be worked out. However, it is a very important step in terms of trying to come to terms with an understanding of more recent events.

The third aspect, the engagement with the Garda Commissioner, is very important because it gives the opportunity in a meaningful way to explore the nature and extent of an investigation without throwing it into a forum of conflict or dispute but simply the first stage as an information process. That is very important. That level of emerging openness has to be recommended to the committee as something of which it should approve, endorse and take up. However, it has to be compared with what is happening on the other side of the island and the lack of openness and co-operation.

We got evidence that some files are missing. Mr. Justice Barron requested certain files. It was not clear whether all the files there were made available. A commission of investigation has been established to investigate missing files regarding the 1974 bombings. Does Justice for the Forgotten feel it would be necessary or desirable for the scope of that commission to be extended to include an examination of files in 1972 and 1973?

As this may be the final question, the Deputy might consider elaborating somewhat.

My final question relates to the three letters, the last one from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Paul Murphy. Considering that we now appear to have a definitive statement from the British authorities, including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, that they will not release documentation to the inquiry, what action does Justice for the Forgotten suggest be taken in that respect considering what we heard from Seán Donlon that all of these documents should have been perused under the 30-year rule?

I ask for a brief reply from Cormac Ó Dúlacháin.

Cormac Ó Dúlacháin

Many of these files were perused under the 30-year rule and for the purposes of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. These events happened at the tail end of the same year. Ultimately this State must decide on the gravity of this issue and it is as far as we are concerned a fundamental breach of the European convention to fail to co-operate with these inquires, which form part of ongoing inquiries into unsolved murders. With the Stevens inquiry we have seen that an inquiry conducted many years later led to prosecutions being initiated. The failure to co-operate is a failure to co-operate with inquiries into murder, which is a breach of a state's obligation to vindicate the right to life and this State should consider that matter.

I thank Cormac Ó Dúlacháin and all those who contributed today. In particular, I thank the representatives of Justice for the Forgotten who have co-operated with the committee during all its hearings. I thank TG4, which has brought the hearings to a much wider audience by broadcasting them live on television. The members of the sub-committee send their condolences to the relatives of the victims who are here today. The sub-committee will do all in its power to bring closure to the suffering and grief they all feel. The sub-committee will produce a report within a few weeks. I thank our guests for their attendance.

Sitting suspended at 12.01 p.m. and resumed in private session at 12.10 p.m.
The sub-committee adjourned at 12.55 p.m.sine die.