Dublin-Monaghan bombings: Victims to sue British government

Dublin-Monaghan bombings: Victims to sue British government

THE FAMILIES of 34 people murdered in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings are to sue the British Government for damages.

They announced their legal action plans today ahead of the 40th anniversary of the attack this Saturday.

The families claimed the loyalist bombings were carried out with British Government collusion and that there was a cover-up.

Three no-warning car bombs went off in Dublin on the evening of May 17, 1974, as well as one in Monaghan.

The attack was the worst atrocity of the Troubles, outstripping even the Real IRA’s Omagh bombing in its casualties.

Among the 34 people killed were a full term baby and a young family of four.

Almost 300 suffered injuries, some of which were life-changing.

The Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility, but nobody has ever been charged in connection with the bombings.

The families said they would be taking legal action in the High Court in Belfast as a last resort.

Despite widespread of allegations of collusion, the British Government has refused to open its files on Dublin-Monaghan on several occasions.

It has failed to comply with two Dáil motions, unanimously passed in 2008 and 2011, calling for the release of files and refused to co-operate fully with an Irish inquiry into allegations of collusion.

The families claim the attack was carried out with the knowledge and assistance of elements of the British security and intelligence services in the North of Ireland.

The case is being taken on behalf of two survivors, one of whom, Derek Byrne, was initially taken to a Dublin hospital morgue due to the severity of his injuries.

Representing the families, solicitor Kevin Winters said: "This civil action in part is designed to try and compensate for that ultimate failing on the part of the Government and the various authorities and agencies who were tasked with the investigation into Dublin-Monaghan and didn't do it."

The news comes ahead of commemoration events in Dublin and Monaghan this weekend, in which the Taoiseach and Tánaiste will lay wreaths in memory of those who were killed.

In this week’s Irish Post, two of the victims speak of the lasting impact of the bombings on their lives.

“For many years I felt as if my insides were tattered, like my emotions were tattered,” said Bernie McNally, who suffered serious injuries to her right eye in the attack.

Ms McNally, who was working in O’Neill’s shoe shop on Talbot Street directly behind the site where one of the bombs exploded, also suffered psychological trauma.

“I could not sleep properly for years,” she said.

“I was afraid to go to sleep in case the bedroom window was going to break and fall in on top of me, that it would just burst like the window in O’Neill’s did.”

Kevin O’Loughlin, whose mother Christina, 51, was killed in the explosion on South Leinster Street, said the refusal of British ministers to release information on the bombings has left his life blighted by a “gnawing background hurt”.

“It is frustrating to think there are things on file that could give families some measure of acceptance,” he added.

“If the information was not there at all then you would be able to say you could do no more, but if you feel like there is something locked away you can’t do that.”

A spokesperson for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said the Government “shares the families’ frustration” at the refusal of British authorities to open its files.

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste consistently raise the issue of the British government allowing access to relevant documents with their counterparts, including most recently this week, as part of Government efforts to progress the all-party Dáil motion on same issue,” he added.

Allegations of collusion were first addressed in a 2004 report by former Irish Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Henry Barron.

He said the British Government’s refusal to supply original documents from its files and its withholding of some documents on security grounds left him unable to reach a conclusion about whether direct collusion was involved in the attack.

A Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice later concluded that alleged complicity of the British security forces in the bombings could not be ruled out unless the files were released.

Allegations of collusion were bolstered last year with the publication of Lethal Allies, a book by former journalist and Pat Finucane Centre researcher Anne Cadwallader.

It claimed the perpetrators of Dublin-Monaghan included members of a notorious gang of loyalists that carried out more than 120 savage murders over five years from 1972 with the help of British State agents.