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Dublin and Monaghan bombings
Location Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland
Date 17 May 1974
Attack type 4 car bombs
Death(s) 33
(26 in Dublin, 7 in Monaghan)
Injured ~300
Perpetrator(s) Ulster Volunteer Force
(with alleged British Intelligence collusion)

The Dublin and Monaghan bombings on 17 May 1974 were a series of car bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. The attacks left 33 persons dead and almost 300 injured: the largest number of casualties in any single day in the Troubles.

The Loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), claimed responsibility for the bombings in 1993. There are allegations, however, that British Intelligence colluded in the bombings. These allegations are contested by both the British Government and those accused.

It was the worst paramilitary attack in terms of fatalities in twentieth-century Ireland.[citation needed] The majority of the victims were young women, although the ages of the dead ranged from five months to 80 years. There were no warnings issued before three car bombs exploded during Dublin's rush-hour when the streets were crowded with shoppers and workers returning home. Ninety minutes later, a fourth car bomb exploded in Monaghan.

The attacks occurred during the Ulster Workers Council Strike which was a general strike called in protest by loyalists against the Sunningdale Agreement's proposed power-sharing between Unionists and Nationalists, and an increased role of the Republic of Ireland in the governance of Northern Ireland. No-one has ever been charged with the attacks, which have been described by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice as an act of international terrorism colluded in by British security forces.[1]




At 17:30 on Friday 17 May 1974, three no-warning car bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Dublin's city centre at Parnell Street, Talbot Street, and South Leinster Street during rush-hour. Twenty-three persons died in these explosions and three others died as a result of injuries over the following few days and weeks. Many of the dead were young women originally from rural Irish towns employed in the civil service. An entire family from central Dublin was killed. Two of the victims were foreign nationals: an Italian man, and a French Jewish woman whose family had survived the Holocaust. Most of the bodies were blasted beyond recognition, including one which was decapitated. There were approximately 300 people injured, many of them horrifically.[2]

The first of the three Dublin bombs went off at approximately 17:28, outside the Welcome Inn pub and close to a petrol station, in Parnell Street near its southwestern intersection with Marlborough Street. Shop fronts were blown out, cars were destroyed, and bodies were strewn about in the street. The bomb car was a metallic green 1970 model Hillman Avenger registration number DIA 4063; it had been hijacked in Belfast that morning. Ten people died as a result of this explosion, including two infant girls, their parents, and a World War I veteran.[3] Many others, including a teenaged petrol-pump attendant, suffered severe injuries.

The second of the Dublin bombs went off at approximately 17:30 in Talbot Street near the northwestern Lower Gardiner Street intersection, outside O'Neill's shoe shop opposite Guineys department store. The bomb car was a metallic blue mink Ford Escort registration number 1385 WZ. It had been stolen that morning in the Docks area of Belfast. Twelve persons were killed outright in this explosion, and another two died over the following days and weeks. Thirteen of the fourteen victims were women, including one who was nine months pregnant. Buildings and vehicles on both sides of the street in the vicinity of the blast were badly damaged. People were struck by shrapnel, flying glass, parts of the destroyed bomb car, and debris; some were hurled through the windows of ruined shop fronts. Talbot Street was described as the worst hit area as it was more crowded than usual due to a corporation bus strike. Several bodies lay in the street for half an hour as ambulances tried to get through the traffic jams.[4] At least four bodies were found on the pavement just outside Guineys.[5]

The third bomb went off at approximately 17:32 in South Leinster Street near the railings of Trinity College, Dublin. Two women were killed instantly in that explosion. The bomb car was a blue Austin 1800 Maxi registration number HOI 2487; like the Parnell Street car, it had been hijacked in Belfast that same morning. Dental students from Trinity College rushed to the scene to give first-aid to the injured.

At 18:00, after all of the dead and injured had been removed, Garda officers cordoned off the three bomb sites. Fifteen minutes earlier, at 15:45, the orders were given to call out national cordons. These were aimed at preventing the bombers from crossing the border into Northern Ireland. Garda officers were sent to Connolly Station, Busaras, Dublin Airport, the B&I car ferry port, and the mail boat at Dun Laoghaire. At 18:28, the Dublin-Belfast train was stopped at Dundalk and searched by a team of 18 Gardaí led by an inspector.[6] Over the course of the evening of 17 May, Gardaí from the Ballistics, Photography, Mappings, and Fingerprints section visited the three bomb sites and examined the debris.


Ninety minutes later, at approximately 18:58, one more car bomb (weighing 150 pounds) exploded outside Greacen's pub in North Road, Monaghan, just south of the border with Northern Ireland. The bomb car was a green 1966 model Hillman Minx registration number 6583 OZ; it had been stolen from a Portadown car park several hours before. As in Dublin, no warning had been given. This bomb killed five people initially, with another two dying in the following weeks. There is evidence that the bomb car was parked five minutes before the explosion.[7] The bomb site which was located about 300-400 yards from the Garda station, was preserved by a roster of eight Gardaí from 19:00 17 May until 14:30 19 May, at which time the technical examination of the area had been completed.[8] Forensic analysis of the metal fragments taken from the site suggested that the bomb had been in a beer barrel or similar container.[9]


Paddy Doyle of Finglas, who lost his daughter, son-in-law, and two infant granddaughters in the Parnell Street explosion, described the scene inside Dublin's city morgue as having been like a "slaughterhouse", with workers "putting arms and legs together to make up a body".[10] Some accounts give a total of 34 or 35 dead from the four bombings: 34 by including the unborn child of victim, Colette Doherty, who was nine months pregnant; and 35 by including the later still-born child of Edward and Martha O'Neill. Edward was killed outright in Parnell Street.[11] Martha O'Neill was not caught up in the attack, although two of their children were seriously injured in the bombing; one of them, a four-year-old boy, suffered severe facial injuries. The 22 months-old daughter of Colette Doherty survived the Talbot Street blast, relatively unharmed. Six weeks after the bombings, the elderly mother of Thomas Campbell, who was killed instantly in the Monaghan bombing, allegedly died of the shock she received at the death of her son.[12]


In Northern Ireland, Sammy Smyth, then press officer of both the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) Strike Committee, said,

"I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin. There is a war with the Free State and now we are laughing at them."[13][14]

According to a Dublin newspaper, the then British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Arthur Galsworthy, noted immediately after the bombings:

"the predictable attempt by the IRA to pin the blame on the British (British agents, the SAS, etc) has made no headway at all. ... It is only now that the South has experienced violence that they are reacting in the way that the North has sought for so long."

The newspaper noted that "despite these feelings of schadenfreude", Galsworthy continued,

it would be. .. a psychological mistake for us to rub this point in. .. I think the Irish have taken the point."[15]

Responsibility for the bombings

The Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility for the bombings in 1993, following a TV documentary on the bombings that named the UVF as the perpetrators, and which alleged that elements of British security forces were involved in the attack.

Yorkshire Television documentary

On 7 July 1993 the British television station Yorkshire Television broadcast, as part of First Tuesday series, the documentary Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre,[16] a programme on the bombings in co-operation with a number of retired officers in An Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland. The programme claimed that the bombings were the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force. It named a number of UVF members whom it said had taken part in the bombings, and who had since been killed during the Troubles. 'Hidden Hand' also claimed, however, that loyalist paramilitaries were aided by British security-force members. Forensic examination seemed to suggest that the Dublin bombs had been built with some sophistication.[17] Garda officers claimed that the UVF had been assisted by elements in British intelligence. Subsequently, a number of questions were asked in the Dáil, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, about responsibility for the massacre. The government ordered the Garda to assess the information in the television programme.

UVF claims responsibility

One week later, on 15 July 1993, the Ulster Volunteer Force confirmed responsibility for the bombings, but also denied that it was aided by British security forces.

The UVF claimed that:

the entire operation was from its conception to its successful conclusion, planned and carried out by our volunteers aided by no outside bodies. In contrast to the scenario painted by the programme, it would have been unnecessary and indeed undesirable to compromise our volunteers anonimity [sic] by using clandestine Security Force personnel, British or otherwise, to achieve [an] objective well within our capabilities. .. Given the backdrop of what was taking place in Northern Ireland when the UVF [were] bombing republican targets at will, either the researchers decided to take poetic licence to the limit or the truth was being twisted by knaves to make [a] trap for the fools. ..The minimum of scrutiny should have revealed that the structure of the bombs placed in Dublin and Monaghan were similar if not identical to those being placed in Northern Ireland on an almost daily basis. The type of explosives, timing and detonating methods all bore the hallmark of the UVF. It is incredulous that these points were lost on the Walter Mittys who conjured up this programme. To suggest that the UVF were not, or are not, capable of operating in the manner outlined in the programme is tempting fate to a dangerous degree."[18]

Relatives seek public inquiry

In 1996, relatives of the victims of the bombings, Justice for the Forgotten, launched a campaign for a public inquiry.[19] As their name implies, the group stated that they had been 'forgotten' by the Irish state.[20]

On 23 July 1997, the group lobbied the European Parliament. MEPs from many countries supported a call for the release of files relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. On 27 August of that year, however, an Irish court declined to order the release of the files.[21]

In August 1999, Irish Victims Commissioner, John Wilson, reported on the demand for a public inquiry. He proposed a judicial inquiry, held in private.

In December 1999, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, appointed Mr Justice Liam Hamilton to undertake a thorough examination of the bombings, in a private inquiry. Justice for the Forgotten agreed to co-operate. The inquiry began work early in 2000. In October 2000, Mr Justice Henry Barron was appointed to succeed Mr Justice Hamilton. Relatives then campaigned for publication of Mr Justice Barron's initial report. It was presented to the Taoiseach on 29 October 2003, and published with five names redacted on 10 December 2003.

The Irish government demanded that the British government hand over official documents relating to the bombings, that were denied to the Barron Inquiry. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, delivered a 16-page letter, but refused to hand over original documentation, claiming security concerns, despite the passage of time. Barron observed, "Correspondence with the Northern Ireland Office undoubtedly produced some useful information; but its value was reduced by the reluctance to make original documents available and the refusal to supply other information on security grounds. While the Inquiry fully understands the position taken by the British Government on these matters, it must be said that the scope of this report is limited as a result."[22] On 16 February 2005, the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights recommended that the Irish Government bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights to force the UK Government to hold a public inquiry into the bombings. In June 2005, the Irish Government threatened to bring the British government to the European Court of Justice, to force the release the files on the bombings.[23]

It is acknowledged that, after 30 years, many witnesses, initial investigators and suspects are dead.

Henry Barron reports on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings

The Barron Report - main findings

On 10 December 2003, Mr Justice Henry Barron's report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings was published.[24][25] It stated:

'The conclusions of the Inquiry regarding the facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators of the bombings can be summarised as follows:'

1. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were carried out by two groups of loyalist paramilitaries, one based in Belfast and the other in the area around Portadown/Lurgan. Most, though not all of those involved were members of the UVF.

2. It is likely that the bombings were conceived and planned in Belfast, with the mid-Ulster element providing operational assistance.

3. The bombings were a reaction to the Sunningdale Agreement – in particular to the prospect of a greater role for the Irish government in the administration of Northern Ireland. The timing of the attacks may have been inspired by a number of important events around that time including:

(i) a statement of the Taoiseach in April 1974 in which he expressed the hope that formal ratification of the Agreement would take place in May;
(ii) statements by Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees (also in April) proposing the phasing out of internment and a gradual reduction of the British Army presence in Northern Ireland;
(iii) the advent of the Ulster Workers' Council strike.

4. A finding that members of the security forces in Northern Ireland could have been involved in the bombings is neither fanciful nor absurd, given the number of instances in which similar illegal activity has been proven.

However, the material assessed by the Inquiry is insufficient to suggest that senior members of the security forces in Northern Ireland were in any way involved in the bombings.

5. The loyalist groups who carried out the bombings in Dublin were capable of doing so without help from any section of the security forces in Northern Ireland, though this does not rule out the involvement of individual RUC, UDR or British Army members.

The Monaghan bombing bears all the hallmarks of a standard loyalist operation and required no assistance.

6. It is likely that the farm of James Mitchell at Glenanne played a significant part in the preparation for the attacks. It is also likely that members of the UDR and RUC either participated in, or were aware of those preparations.

7. The possibility that the involvement of such army or police officers was covered-up at a higher level cannot be ruled out; but it is unlikely that any such decision would ever have been committed to writing.

8. There is no evidence that any branch of the security forces knew in advance the bombings were about to take place. This has been reiterated by the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and is accepted by the Inquiry. If they did know, it is unlikely that there would be any official records. Such knowledge would not have been written down; or if it had been, would not have been in any files made available to the Secretary of State. There is evidence the Secretary of State of the day was not fully informed on matters of which he should have been made aware. On that basis, it is equally probable that similarly sensitive information might be withheld from the present holder of that office.

9. The Inquiry believes that within a short time of the bombings taking place, the security forces in Northern Ireland had good intelligence to suggest who was responsible. An example of this could be the unknown information that led British Intelligence sources to tell their Irish Army counterparts that at least two of the bombers had been arrested on 26 May and detained. Unfortunately, the Inquiry has been unable to discover the nature of this and other intelligence available to the security forces in Northern Ireland at that time.

10. A number of those suspected for the bombings were reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and / or RUC Special Branch officers. It is reasonable to assume that exchanges of information took place. It is therefore possible that the assistance provided to the Garda investigation team by the security forces in Northern Ireland was affected by a reluctance to compromise those relationships, in the interests of securing further information in the future. There remains a deep suspicion that the investigation into the bombings was hampered by such factors, but it cannot be put further than that.

11. As stated, there are grounds for suspecting that the bombers may have had assistance from members of the security forces. …. Unless further information comes to hand, such involvement must remain a suspicion. It is not proven.[26]

The publication of the report caused a sensation in Ireland, as demonstrated by political and media reaction.[27] It is generally agreed that the report raised more questions than it answered and that it opened up new avenues of inquiry.

Oireachtas Sub-Committee on collusion

The Oireachtas Sub-Committee considering Mr Justice Barron's report concluded:

2.20 In relation to the identity of the perpetrators, Mr. Justice Barron compiled a wealth of material, which supports his conclusion that the bombings were carried by the two groups of loyalist paramilitaries (one in Belfast and the other in Portadown/Lurgan). There is still a degree of speculation as to the definitive line- up of individuals actually involved in each stage of the preparation, planning and placing of the bombs. The Barron Report will serve as a useful starting point in assisting any further enquiry.

2.21 With regard to the issue of collusion, the Sub-Committee has a limited function namely, to review the Barron Report and cannot therefore come to a different conclusion. The Sub-Committee would like to acknowledge the difficulties faced by Mr. Justice Barron in his attempts to explore this issue fully. There is no way of knowing what might be contained in documentation which exists in Northern Ireland and the UK without gaining access to that documentation. However, even based on the material he did manage to gather, the suggestion that members of the security forces in Northern Ireland could have been involved in the bombings is in Mr Justice Barron’s own words, ‘neither fanciful nor absurd’. In addition, the Sub-Committee is concerned that a number of responsible persons and groups who made submissions have come to the conclusion that collusion played a part.

2.22 Until such time as the relevant original documentation is released by the UK Authorities and the issue addressed in the jurisdiction where the bombs were prepared and planned, namely, Northern Ireland, it may not be possible to come to definitive conclusions in this regard. The question of what any further inquiry can achieve in this regard will be considered later in this Report. The Sub-Committee acknowledges that the failure to bring closure on this particular aspect has exacerbated the pain and suffering of the victims and their relatives.[28]

A subsequent report by Henry Barron into the Miami Showband massacre, the killing of Seamus Ludlow, and the bombing of Keys Tavern found evidence of extensive collusion with the same mainly UVF personnel, amounting to "international terrorism" on the part of British forces.[29]

McEntee Inquiry

Following a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights, in its final report on the bombings (March 2004), the Irish Government established a further Commission of Investigation: Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1974 in May 2005 under Patrick McEntee. The McEntee Enquiry is tasked to investigate the following:

1. Why was the Garda investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings wound down in 1974?

2. Why did the Gardaí not follow-up on the following leads?

(i) Information that a white van with an English registration plate, was parked outside the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on Portland Row and was later seen parked in the deep sea area of the B&I ferry port in Dublin, and the subsequent contact made with a British Army officer on a ferry boat leaving that port.
(ii) Information relating to a man, William McClean,[30] who stayed in the Four Courts Hotel between 15 and 17 May 1974, and his contacts with the UVF.
(iii) Information concerning a British Army corporal allegedly sighted.

The remit of the McEntee Commission was extended on a number of occasions. The report was handed to the Irish government on 12 March 2007.[31] Publication was expected by the end of March 2007[32] On 3 April 2007, the Irish government announced that the Report would be published on 4 April 2007 at 5pm, after distribution to victims and to the families of those who had been killed by the bombs.

Barron Report - the detail

Mr Justice Barron reported that his official inquiry was obstructed by the British authorities. It found, "In investigating allegations of collusion in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, this Inquiry faces all the problems identified by the Stevens Inquiry, with the additional complication that it has no authority or powers within the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland."[33] Then Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan (London) Police, John Stevens, required three inquiries, with powers of search, questioning and arrest. His offices within RUC headquarters suffered an arson attack. Stevens noted under "Obstruction of my Enquiries"

There was a clear breach of security before the planned arrest of [British agent and UDA member Brian] Nelson and other senior loyalists. Information was leaked to the loyalist paramilitaries and the press. This resulted in the operation being aborted. Nelson was advised by his FRU handlers to leave home the night before. A new date was set for the operation on account of the leak. The night before the new operation my Incident room was destroyed by fire. This incident, in my opinion, has never been adequately investigated and I believe it was a deliberate act of arson.[34]

Stevens stated that collusion with loyalist killers by British Army Intelligence and RUC Special Branch had taken place:

I conclude there was collusion in both murders and the circumstances surrounding them. Collusion is evidenced in many ways. This ranges from the willful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder.[35]

Barron reported, "we refer to the main difficulty in assessing the usefulness to the inquiry of the information" received from the British government. "When three of us met Dr. Reid [then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland] and three of his officials in January 2002, we stressed that we wanted to see original intelligence documents, but we never got them. Of the information we received, some of it consisted of excerpts from an intelligence document, but there was not sufficient information to work out who got what document, whether there were other documents dealing with similar matters and how they were assessed by the people to whom they were addressed."[36]

The Report (2003) by Justice Barron also criticises the Garda investigation into the bombings. He criticised, in addition, the lack of urgency in pursuing the culprits shown by then Labour-Fine Gael party coalition government in Dublin. Barron noted, "The Government of the day showed little interest in the bombings. When information was given to them suggesting the British authorities had intelligence naming the bombers, this was not followed up." Barron went on to note that similar, though not as extensive information, "was given to the Gardaí by the RUC but there are no records of the Gardaí questioning the RUC as to the names of those so interned, or attempting to ascertain the nature of the intelligence which led to their being detained. And the report says there is also no record of Irish Army intelligence seeking further information from their British counterparts".[37] Barron stated that Department of Justice files on the Dublin bombings were "missing in their entirety" and that no records were provided to Barron by the department. The Garda investigation ended prematurely. Barron found, "there was no single reason why the investigation ended".

An RUC officer reported by Gardaí to be "an excellent and honest policeman" who would have had good intelligence as to who was responsible for various loyalist bombings, gave evidence to the Inquiry. Barron noted "Given the central position he occupied in the intelligence-gathering network for the Mid-Ulster region, this RUC officer’s interview with the Inquiry was disappointing. He said that the intelligence received by him was generally of a low grade. The Inquiry does not find this credible. This man lived and worked in Portadown, where loyalist paramilitaries lived open lives, largely untouched by the security forces. He himself told the Inquiry that the RUC were free to operate in loyalist areas, and that they knew the names of all the active people. In his meetings with the Inquiry, he made several statements which were shown to be inaccurate or based on assumptions rather than fact".[38]

Barron on ballistic history

The Barron Inquiry found a chain of ballistic history linking weapons and killings under the control of a group of UVF and security force members, including RUC Special Patrol Group members John Weir and Billy McCaughey, connected to those alleged to have carried out the bombings.

These "included, in 1975, three murders at Donnelly's bar in Silverbridge, the murders of two men at a fake UDR checkpoint, the murder of IRA man John Francis Green in the Republic, the murders of members of the Miami showband and the murder of Dorothy Trainor in Portadown. In 1976, they included the murders of three members of the Reavey family, and the attack on the Rock Bar in Tassagh."[39]

According to Fred Holroyd, Captain Robert Nairac, acting under SAS orders, was involved in the killing of John Francis Green in the Republic of Ireland[40] and in the Miami Showband killings.[41] John Weir supported the suggestion of Nairac's involvement in the Green assassination: "I was told that Nairac was with them. I was told by… a UVF man, he was very close to Jackson and operated with him. Jackson told [him] that Nairac was with them."[42] Surviving Miami showband members Steve Travers and Des McAlee testified in court that an Army officer with a crisp English accent oversaw the Miami Showband killings, the implication being that this was Nairac.[43]

Susan McKay summarised Barron on the ballistic history point:

It was probable the guns were kept at a farm at Glenanne belonging to James Mitchell, an RUC reservist. .. from which a group of paramilitaries and members of the security forces. .. carried out the massacres at Dublin and Monaghan. ... The chain was unbroken because the perpetrators of these attacks weren't caught, or investigations were haphazard, or charges were dropped, or light or suspended sentences were given. The same individuals turn up again and again, but the links weren't noted. Some of the perpetrators weren't prosecuted despite evidence against them.[39]

Robin Jackson, consistently linked with Nairac, was alleged to be involved in this illegal violence (the link was noted contemporaneously in 1975 – see Colin Wallace section below).

On 28 October 1973, Robin Jackson murdered Patrick Campbell, a 34-year-old Catholic from Banbridge. He shot him on the doorstep of his home. Campbell's wife picked Jackson out during a police identity parade. However, a murder charge brought against him was dropped after it was claimed Mrs Campbell knew Jackson - a claim she denies. Six months later, the loyalist was one of those who bombed Dublin and Monaghan. Barron notes that in 1976, the security forces came up with evidence, including Jackson's finger print on one of the guns in the chain above. … He was released. In 1977, he was named in court as the gunman who shot William Strathearn in Ahoghill, Co Antrim. Two RUC men, Billy McCaughey and John Weir were convicted. Jackson wasn't even questioned, for "operational reasons" which have never been detailed.[44]

Barron Inquiry treatment of evidence of collusion in bombings

Colin Wallace on security force collusion in bombings

Barron noted journalist Robert Fisk's[45] suggestion that the bombings were carried out by militant UVF members opposed to meetings between UVF delegations and the Official and Provisional IRA, which had taken place earlier in 1974: "The Dublin bombings were apparently carried out to show other members of the UVF that, left-wing though it might have become, this did not imply any deals with republicans."

This view finds independent support in a letter from then British Army intelligence officer Colin Wallace to Tony Stoughton, Chief Information Officer of the British Army Information Service at Lisburn, on 14 August 1975.

There is good evidence the Dublin bombings in May last year were a reprisal for the Irish government's role in bringing about the [power sharing] Executive. According to one of Craig's people [Craig Smellie, the top MI6 officer in the Northern Ireland at the time], some of those involved, the Youngs, the Jacksons, Mulholland, Hanna, Kerr and McConnell were working closely with [Special Branch] and [Intelligence] at that time. Craig's people believe the sectarian assassinations were designed to destroy [then Northern Secretary Merlyn] Rees's attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, and the targets were identified for both sides by [Intelligence/Special Branch]. They also believe some very senior RUC officers were involved with this group. In short, it would appear that loyalist paramilitaries and [Intelligence/Special Branch] members have formed some sort of pseudo gangs in an attempt to fight a war of attrition by getting paramilitaries on both sides to kill each other and, at the same time prevent any future political initiative such as Sunningdale.[46]

In a further letter dated 30 September 1975, Wallace revealed that MI5 was trying to create a split in the UVF,

because they wanted the more politically minded ones ousted. I believe much of the violence generated during the latter part of last year was caused by some of the new Int people deliberately stirring up the conflict. As you know, we have never been allowed to target the breakaway UVF, nor the UFF, during the past year. Yet they have killed more people than the IRA![47]

Barron noted that Wallace's 14 August 1975 letter was "strong evidence that the security forces in Northern Ireland had intelligence information which was not shared with the Garda investigation team."[48]

Wallace also noted that:

several of the key players in the mid-Ulster UVF were working for the Special Branch and for ourselves. .. giving information and liaising and so forth. If you just draw the line there and don't even go any further than liaison, and if the informers were doing their job - and if they weren't doing their job we wouldn't have been using them - an operation of that size, in terms of the logistics and planning was so big that there was something seriously wrong if the Security Forces as a whole did not know that (a) an operation was going on; and (b) had some idea about it, because of the scale of it. That would have been a prime target for the intelligence agencies to get to grips with.[49]

Wallace then noted that investigation into the bombings was closed down with immediate effect a very short time after the bombings.[50]

As with Fred Holroyd and John Weir, there were unsuccessful attempts to undermine Colin Wallace's credibility and evidence to the Inquiry. Between 1968 and 1975 Wallace had run the main psychological warfare, or 'psyops', department at British Army Headquarters in Lisburn, a task involving "dissemination of information and disinformation". In September 1974 Wallace refused to become involved in attempts by the security services to subvert British government policy. Wallace also discovered that at the Kincora Boys' Home a member of an "extreme loyalist organisation", William McGrath, was involved with others in pedophile abuse. The home was not closed down. Wallace suspected that " the intelligence services were using the information to blackmail the extreme loyalist into helping them". Wallace made known his opposition.[51] Wallace later attempted to expose security force involvement in events such as the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, and attempts by MI5 to undermine "left wing organisations and individuals", including the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.

Barron notes that Wallace was then targeted by the same security services he had served. He was forced out of government service on a charge of attempting to pass a restricted document to a journalist, Robert Fisk. In 1980 he was charged with and then convicted of manslaughter. After his release from prison on parole in 1985, Wallace proclaimed his innocence. He later successfully overturned the conviction, which was quashed on 21 July 1996. Wallace was also paid £30,000 pounds sterling compensation (the maximum allowed) for unjust dismissal from government Service. His role within the British Army intelligence service had already been officially, though belatedly, acknowledged in 1990.[52] Wallace was fully vindicated.[53][54]

Fred Holroyd on security force collusion in bombings

Evidence for British security force involvement in the bombings is also supported by British Army Captain Fred Holroyd, who worked for MI6 during the 1970s in Northern Ireland. Holroyd argued that "the bombings were part of a pattern of collusion between elements of the security forces in Northern Ireland and loyalist paramilitaries."

Barron found that members of the Gardaí and of the RUC attempted to unfairly and unjustly undermine Holroyd's evidence.

Barron noted that "Some of the RUC officers interviewed by the Inquiry, in their apparent eagerness to deny Holroyd any credibility whatsoever, themselves made inaccurate and misleading statements which have unfortunately tarnished their own credibility."[55]

Then Assistant Commissioner of the Gardaí, Edmund ('Ned') Garvey was said by Fred Holroyd to have met him and an RUC Officer at Garda headquarters in 1975. Holroyd named Garvey, and another Garda (codenamed, 'the badger'), as being on the "British side". Garvey later denied that the meeting took place. However, Justice Barron found: "The visit by Holroyd to Garda Headquarters unquestionably did take place, notwithstanding former Commissioner Garvey’s inability to recall it".[56] Barron further noted: "On the Northern side, there is conflicting evidence as to how, why and by whom the visit was arranged. Regrettably, Garda investigations have failed to uncover any documentary evidence of the visit, or to identify any of the officers involved in arranging it from the Southern side."[47]

Edmund Garvey was dismissed by the incoming Fianna Fáil Government on 19 January 1978 without explanation, other than by stating that it no longer had confidence in him as Garda Commissioner.

John Weir on security force collusion in bombings

The UVF claim of sole responsibility is also undermined by extensive evidence of involvement by British security forces in their paramilitary violence, in particular within UVF structures. RUC and UDR involvement with loyalist paramilitaries is established by admission of some of those involved - see Billy McCaughey. McCaughey, claimed that many local RUC and Ulster Defence Regiment personnel were working with UVF paramilitaries in the Armagh and Mid Ulster area in a way that made membership almost interchangeable - he claimed that his RUC Special Patrol Group unit was both exclusively Protestant and "orange" or unionist.[57]

John Weir, a member of a different, though equally loyalist, RUC Special Patrol Group,

claimed to have been part of a renegade group of loyalist paramilitaries, UDR and RUC officers who were carrying out attacks on both sides of the border between 1974 and 1978. He named people who he said were involved in a number of these attacks - including the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings. He also named a farm which he claimed was used as a base by the group. He alleged that senior officers in the RUC knew of, and gave tacit approval to, these activities.[58]

On Page 147 of the Barron Report, Weir detailed how "senior officers in the RUC knew of and encouraged connections between RUC officers and loyalist extremists."


Weir said he was told that [UDR staff instructor William] Hanna was assisted in carrying out the Dublin bombings by Robin Jackson (UVF, Lurgan) and David Payne (UDA, Belfast). He says that Stewart Young (UVF, Portadown) had been involved in carrying out the Monaghan bombing – adding that he heard this from Young himself as well as from others in the group. He said that explosives for all four bombs were supplied by a named UDR officer.[59]

In his report, Mr Justice Barron commented on John Weir's evidence "The Inquiry agrees with the view of An Garda Siochana that Weir's allegations regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings must be treated with the utmost seriousness."[60]

Despite Weir's conviction for the murder of William Strathearn in April 1977 - for which he was originally sentenced to life in prison - the inquiry found that Mr Weir's claims are 'largely credible'... Bearing in mind that Weir was an active member of the security services and that his allegations relating to the period from May to August 1976 have received considerable confirmation, the Inquiry believes that his evidence overall is credible.[61]

The RUC furnished the Gardaí with a report that attempted to undermine Weir's evidence. Barron found this RUC attempt to be highly inaccurate and to lack credibility.[62]

See also


  1. ^ RTÉ News - Call for probe of British link to 1974 bombs
  2. ^ Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence, and Women's Rights, Interim Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, retrieved on 21-10.09
  3. ^ The Irish Independent, 28 April 2004, retrieved on 28-10-09
  4. ^ retrieved 23-10-09
  5. ^ The Irish Examiner, 5 April 2007, retrieved on 28-10-09
  6. ^ Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, Interim Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, retrieved 21 October 2009
  7. ^ Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence, and Women's Rights, Interim Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, retrieved 23-10-09
  8. ^ Houses of the Oieachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence, and Women's Rights, December 2003, retrieved 23-10-09
  9. ^ Mr Justice Henry Barron's Statement to Oireachtas Joint Committee on 10 December 2003
  10. ^ Yorkshire Television, The Hidden Hand documentary.
  11. ^ CAIN Sutton record of the events available here.
  12. ^ Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence, and Women's Rights, December 2003, retrieved 23-10-09
  13. ^ in CAIN timeline.
  14. ^ Sammy Smyth was killed by the PIRA on 10 March 1976
  15. ^ 'Irish have taken the point': British Envoy on Dublin bombs, by Rory Rapple, Sunday Business Post, 2 January 2005
  16. ^ See transcript in Report (2003) by Justice Barron, Appendix 1
  17. ^ See discussion with British Army bomb disposal officer Nigel Wylde
  18. ^ CAIN: UVF: Statement by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), 15 July 1993
  19. ^ See RTE Primetime report, 9 December 2003
  20. ^ see Mass murder on our streets, by Don Lavery, Irish Independent, 26 June 2004
  21. ^ CAIN: Events: Dublin and Monaghan Bombs - Chronology of Events
  22. ^ Report (2003) by Justice Barron, Mr Justice Henry Barron's statement to Oireachtas
  23. ^ Govt may take case over 1974 bombings RTÉ News, 8 March 2005
  24. ^ Report on the Dublin and Monaghan, 2003
  25. ^ See Irish Independent, 11 December 2003 for extensive report summaries
  26. ^ Report (2003) by Justice Barron, p. 286-288
  27. ^ Listen to, for example, RTÉ Radio One, Five Seven Live report of Barron Report publication, 10 December 2003, and interview with Colin Wallace, RTÉ Radio One, Five Seven Live, 11 December 2003, and see Irish Independent, 11 December 2003
  28. ^ Oireachtas Sub Committee's 'Final Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings (April 2004)', p. 21
  29. ^ See audio and video at Ahern says UK must examine collusion findings RTÉ News, 29 November 2006
  30. ^ "Nevin appeal seeks State papers on witnesses at trial". Irish Times, 4 April 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009
  31. ^ Irish government receives latest report into Dublin-Monaghan bombs, Belfast Telegraph, 13 March 2007
  32. ^ Report on Dublin bombings will be held up for a week, Irish Independent, 19 March 2007
  33. ^ Report (2003) by Justice Barron, p. 281
  34. ^ Stevens Enquiry 3, 17 April 2003, P. 13
  35. ^ ibid, p. 16, see also Into the Dark by (former RUC CID officer) Johnston Brown, Gill & Macmillan, 2005 for information on the official protection for over eight years of Ken Barrett, the self-confessed killer of solicitor Pat Finucane
  36. ^ in Barron Report public hearings
  37. ^ Cabinet 'failed to show concern', Report points finger at Coalition apathy
  38. ^ Report (2003) by Justice Barron, p. 297
  39. ^ a b Barron throws light on a little shock of horrors, by Susan McKay, Sunday Tribune, 14 December 2003
  40. ^ The SAS in Ireland - Revealed, Irish News, by Barry McCaffrey, 13 July 2006.
  41. ^ Ken Livingstone, maiden speech British House of Commons, Hansard Parliamentary Debates, volume 118, 7 July 1987
  42. ^ Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003 p.206
  43. ^ Enigmatic SAS man linked to massacre, News Letter, 1 August 2005
  44. ^ ibid. See also graphic on ballistic history, pages 110-115 of Report of the Independent International Panel on Alleged Collusion in Sectarian Killings in Northern Ireland, Center for Civil and Human Rights Notre Dame Law School, October 2006
  45. ^ Sunday Times, 14 October 1974
  46. ^ Death Squad Dossier, Irish Mail on Sunday by Michael Browne, 10 December 2006, also partly quoted in Barron Report (2003) p, 172 see also, Irish Daily Mail, 30 November 2006 for further information
  47. ^ a b ibid
  48. ^ Barron Report p. 121
  49. ^ Report by Justice Henry Barron into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, p. 173
  50. ^ See British and UVF met 10 days after bombs killed 33, by Colm Heatley, Sunday Business Post, 25 February 2007
  51. ^ See Barron Report (2003) on Wallace, p. 163-169
  52. ^ Archie Hamilton, British Junior Defence Minister, parliamentary reply on Wallace, correcting previous misleading information, Hansard, 30 January 1990
  53. ^ see Report (2003) by Justice Barron, p. 167-168
  54. ^ See also Who Framed Colin Wallace by Paul Foot, Pan 1990, ISBN 0330314467, and, also by Paul Foot, The final vindication, The Guardian, 2 October 2002, and Inside story: MI5 mischief, The Guardian, 22 July 1996
  55. ^ Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, p.29
  56. ^ [ibid p. 199-200, 206-07]
  57. ^ Bandit Country, by Toby Harnden, Coronet Books, 2000, p.190-191
  58. ^ Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, p. 88
  59. ^ ibid, p. 146
  60. ^ Hatred in Harryville, by Henry McDonald, Sunday Times, 9 February 1997
  61. ^ Claims of collusion 'must be taken seriously', by Alison Bray, Irish Independent, 11 December 2003, see also Profiles of Weir: RUC man's secret war with the IRA, by Liam Clarke, Sunday Times, 7 March 1999 and I'm lucky to be above Ground, by Frank Connolly, Village, 16 November 2006
  62. ^ Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, December 2003, p. 148-151

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