Bombs in Monaghan and Dublin on May 17 1974 resulted in the death of 33 civilians and the wounding of almost 300 people. Those atrocities resulted in the highest number of casualties in any one day during that very difficult era which is commonly referred to as ‘The Troubles’.
The UVF, the loyalist paramilitary group claimed responsibility for the bombings. I believe there are various credible allegations that elements of British Security Forces colluded with the UVF in those bombings.
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice called the acts ‘an act of international terrorism’.
Six years ago on this day the then Government Chief Whip, Pat Carey, moved a motion on this matter that had the unanimous support of all Parties and Members in this House. A similar motion was also passed in May 2011.
That motion from this House requested the British Government to allow access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents held by the British Government relating to the atrocities that occurred in this jurisdiction and which were enquired in to by Mr Justice Barron. Those requests from this House, from this Sovereign Parliament have literally fallen on deaf ears.
More than 40 years on it is high time for the British Government to respond in a responsible way to our requests.
The release of these files would enable the assessment of the documents to assist in the resolution of these awful crimes which still scar our country so much. The concerns, the grief and the untold hardship endured by so many families must be our uppermost concern.
I know from all of the conversations that I have had in meetings with families of the victims that all they want is the truth. Indeed it is a very basic request for families who continue to suffer owing to the death of loved ones and indeed a basic requirement for so many who had injuries inflicted on them on that day of carnage.
Not alone have I raised this matter in Parliamentary Questions with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade but I have also raised this very important matter on a number of occasions over the past 18 months in meetings with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Teresa Villiers and with the British Labour Spokesperson on Northern Ireland, Ivan Lewis.
At a time when British and Irish working relations are so positive it is important that the files which would establish the truth of what happened on that awful day in 1974 are released.
The least that the families of the victims deserve is the truth. The British Government has a major responsibility in this regard, a responsibility that they must not be allowed to evade.
Mr Justice Barron, in the very good work undertaken by him, in 2003 referred to the clear collusion that occurred with some British State Security Forces in assisting the UVF in those desperate atrocities alongside other murders.
The Government, particularly the Taoiseach along with the Foreign Affairs and Justice Ministers must bring the utmost pressure to bear on the British Government to finally assist in reaching the truth in relation to those evil deeds. Access to those files is urgently required.