Military Wiki
Dublin and Monaghan bombings
Part of The Troubles
File:Talbot street bomb.jpg
Some of the damage caused by the second car bomb on Talbot Street, Dublin
Location Dublin and Monaghan,
Republic of Ireland
Date 17 May 1974
5.28 pm, 5.30 pm, 5.32 pm; 6.58 pm
Attack type
4 car bombs
Deaths 34
(27 in Dublin, 7 in Monaghan)
Non-fatal injuries
About 300
Perpetrators Ulster Volunteer Force[1]

The Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974 were a series of co-ordinated car bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland. Three exploded in Dublin during rush hour and a fourth exploded in Monaghan almost ninety minutes later. They killed 33 civilians and a full-term unborn child, and injured almost 300. The bombings were the deadliest attack of the conflict known as the Troubles, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the Republic's history.[2] Most of the victims were young women, although the ages of the dead ranged from five months to 80 years.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group from Northern Ireland, claimed responsibility for the bombings in 1993. It had launched a number of attacks in the Republic since 1969. There are credible allegations that elements of the British state security forces helped the UVF carry out the bombings, including members of the Glenanne gang. Some of these allegations have come from former members of the security forces. The Irish parliament's Joint Committee on Justice called the attacks an act of international terrorism involving British state forces.[1] The month before the bombings, the British government had lifted the UVF's status as a proscribed organization.

The bombings happened during the Ulster Workers' Council strike. This was a general strike called by hardline loyalists and unionists in Northern Ireland who opposed the Sunningdale Agreement. Specifically, they opposed the sharing of political power with Irish nationalists, and the proposed role for the Republic in the governance of Northern Ireland. The Republic's government had helped bring about the Agreement. The strike brought down the Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly on 28 May.

No-one has ever been charged with the bombings. A campaign by the victims' families led to an Irish government inquiry under Justice Henry Barron. His 2003 report criticized the Garda Síochána's investigation and said the investigators stopped their work prematurely.[3] It also criticized the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time for its inaction and lack of interest in the bombings.[3] The report said it was likely that British security force personnel were involved but had insufficient evidence of higher-level involvement. However, the inquiry was hindered by the British government's refusal to release key documents.[4] The victims' families and others have continued to campaign for the British government to release these documents.



A hijacked green 1970 model Hillman Avenger was used in the Parnell Street explosion which killed 10 people

A 2006 view of Talbot Street where a further 14 people died

At about 17:30 on Friday 17 May 1974, without warning, three car bombs exploded in Dublin city centre at Parnell Street, Talbot Street and South Leinster Street during rush hour. The streets all ran east-west from busy thoroughfares to railway stations.[5] There was a bus strike in Dublin at the time, which meant there were more people on the streets than usual.[6] According to one of the Irish Army's top bomb disposal officers, Commandant Patrick Trears, the bombs were constructed so well that 100% of each bomb exploded upon detonation.[7] Twenty-three people died in these explosions and three others died from their 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.

First bomb

The first of the three Dublin car bombs went off at about 17:28 on Parnell Street, near the intersection with Marlborough Street.[8] It was in a parking bay outside the Welcome Inn pub and Barry's supermarket at 93 and 91 Parnell Street respectively, and near petrol pumps. Shop fronts were blown out, cars were destroyed, and people were thrown in all directions. A brown Mini that had been parked behind the bomb was hurled onto the pavement at a right angle. One survivor described "a big ball of flame coming straight towards us, like a great nuclear mushroom cloud whooshing up everything in its path".[9] The bomb car was a metallic green 1970 model Hillman Avenger, registration number DIA 4063. It had been facing toward O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare. This car, like the other two bomb cars, had its original registration plates. It had been hijacked in Belfast that morning.[10] Ten people were killed in this explosion, including two infant girls and their parents, and a World War I veteran.[11] Many others, including a teenaged petrol-pump attendant, were severely injured.

Second bomb

The second of the Dublin car bombs went off at about 17:30 on Talbot Street, near the intersection with Lower Gardiner Street. Talbot Street was the main route from the city centre to Connolly station, Dublin's primary railway station. It was parked at 18 Talbot Street, on the north side, 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.[10] The blast damaged buildings and vehicles on both sides of the street. People suffered severe burns and were struck by shrapnel, flying glass and debris; some were hurled through the windows of shops.[8]

Twelve people were killed outright, and another two died over the following days and weeks. Thirteen of the fourteen victims were women, including one who was nine months pregnant. One young woman who had been beside the bomb car was decapitated; the only clue to her sex was the pair of brown platform boots she was wearing.[12] Several others lost limbs and a man was impaled through the abdomen by an iron bar.[8] Several bodies lay in the street for half an hour as ambulances struggled to get through traffic jams.[13] At least four bodies were found on the pavement outside Guineys.[14] The bodies of the victims were covered by newspapers until they were removed from the scene.

Third bomb

The third bomb went off at about 17:32 on South Leinster Street, near the railings of Trinity College and not far from the Irish parliament building, Leinster House. Two women were killed outright; they had been very close to the epicentre of the blast. 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 from a taxi company.[10] Dental students from Trinity College rushed to the scene to give first-aid to the injured.


Almost ninety minutes later, at about 18:58, a fourth car bomb (weighing 150 pounds) exploded in the centre of Monaghan town, just south of the border with Northern Ireland. It had been parked outside Greacen's pub on North Road. The car was a green 1966 model Hillman Minx registration number 6583 OZ; it had been stolen from a Portadown car park several hours before.[10] As in Dublin, no warning had been given. This bomb killed five people outright, and another two died in the following weeks. There is evidence that the car bomb was parked five minutes before the explosion.[15] The bomb site, which was about 300–400 yards from the Garda station, was preserved by a roster of eight Gardaí from 19:00 on 17 May until 14:30 on 19 May, at which time the technical examination of the area had been completed.[15] Forensic analysis of the metal fragments taken from the site suggested that the bomb had been in a beer barrel or similar container.[15] It has been suggested that the Monaghan bombing was a "supporting attack"; a diversion to draw security away from the border and thus help the Dublin bombers return to Northern Ireland.[16]


Memorial to the bomb victims in Dublin's Talbot Street

After the blasts, bystanders rushed to help the wounded, and emergency response personnel were on the scene within minutes.[17] Hospitals across Dublin were put on standby to receive casualties. However, rescue operations in Dublin were hampered by heavy traffic due to the bus strike.[17] Rescuers, feeling that help was not coming fast enough, lifted the dead and wounded, wrapped them in coats and bundled them into cars to get them to the nearest hospital.[17] Garda squad cars escorted surgeons through the crowded streets to attend the wounded. Many people, on finding out what had happened, went straight away to offer blood.[17]

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".[18]

At 18:00, after all of the dead and injured had been removed, Garda Síochána officers cordoned off the three bomb sites in Dublin. Fifteen minutes earlier, at 17:45, the orders were given to call out 'national cordons', to stop the bombers fleeing the state.[17] Garda officers were sent to Connolly Station, Busáras, Dublin Airport, the B&I car ferry port, and the mail boat at Dún Laoghaire.[17] At 18:28, the Dublin-Belfast train was stopped at Dundalk and searched by a team of 18 Gardaí led by an inspector.[17] During the evening of 17 May, Gardaí from the Ballistics, Photography, Mappings, and Fingerprints section visited the three bomb sites in Dublin and examined the debris.[17]

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.[19] 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; she was found wandering about near the bomb site, relatively unharmed.[20] Six weeks after the bombings, the elderly mother of Thomas Campbell, who was killed in the Monaghan bombing, allegedly died of the shock she received at the death of her son.[15]

Due to the bombings, the Irish Army withdrew its troops from UN peacekeeping missions for four years.[21]


Reverse of Talbot Street memorial

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."[19] However, neither the UDA nor UVF admitted responsibility. A 'Captain Craig' telephoned the Irish News and Irish Times, claiming responsibility for the bombings on behalf of the 'Red Hand Brigade', which is believed to be a covername.[22] The bombings were condemned by the Irish and British governments, and the Irish government vowed to pursue those responsible. However, there have been complaints from the victims' families and others about the Irish government's reaction. The Fine Gael-Labour Party government refused to hold a national day of mourning, because, according to a spokesman from the Government Information Bureau, "More than 1,000 people have now died in the current Troubles".[23] The previous government had held a national day of mourning for those killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland. A decision was also made not to fly the national flag at half-mast, but this was quickly reversed.[23]

In Leinster House, about 300 metres from the site of the South Leinster Street blast, political leaders commented at the next session of Dáil Éireann. Statements by government ministers appeared to suggest that the bombings were an inevitable result of the IRA campaign.[23] Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, of Fine Gael, recorded his disgust, but added:[24]

The blood of the innocent victims of last Friday's outrage—and of the victims of similar outrages in the North and in England—is on the hands of every man who has fired a gun or discharged a bomb in furtherance of the present campaign of violence in these islands—just as plainly as it is on the hands of those who parked the cars and set the charges last Friday. In our times, violence cannot be contained in neat compartments and justified in one case but not in another.

The opposition leader Jack Lynch, of Fianna Fáil, was "sickened" by the "cruel" events, but also widened the question of blame:[24]

Every person and every organisation which played any part in the campaign of bombing and violence which killed and maimed people and destroyed property in Belfast, Derry or any other part of our country and indeed in Britain over the past five years, shares the guilt and the shame of the assassins who actually placed these bombs on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan last Friday.

In secret memos, the then British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Arthur Galsworthy, noted the reactions in Dublin immediately after the bombings. He said the bombings had hardened attitudes against the IRA:[25]

There is no sign of any general anti-Northern Protestant reaction ... 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. ... it would be ... a psychological mistake for us to rub this point in. ... I think the Irish have taken the point.

Responsibility for the bombings

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 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.

Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre

On 7 July 1993, Yorkshire Television broadcast a documentary about the bombings, named Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre.[26] The documentary-makers interviewed former Irish and British security force personnel, as well as former loyalist militants. They were also given access to Irish police documents.[27] The programme claimed the bombings were carried out by the UVF, with help from members of the British security forces.[27] It named a number of UVF members whom it said were involved, and who had since been killed in the Troubles. These included Billy Hanna (a sergeant in the British Army's Ulster Defence Regiment - UDR), Robert McConnell (a UDR corporal), Harris Boyle (also a UDR soldier), and a loyalist referred to as "the Jackal". He was later identified as former UDR soldier Robin Jackson, who was still alive at the time of broadcast.[27] The documentary claimed that all of these men were working as agents for British Military Intelligence and RUC Special Branch.[27] William Marchant was named as leader of the Belfast UVF gang who hijacked the cars used.[28][29] The documentary also suggested that British Army officer Robert Nairac, a member of the covert Special Reconnaissance Unit/14 Intelligence Company, may have been involved. The narrator said: "We have evidence from police, military and loyalist sources which confirms [...] that in May 1974, he was meeting with these paramilitaries, supplying them with arms and helping them plan acts of terrorism".[27] Reference was made to the complexity of the attack and the sophistication of the bombs. Former British Army officer Fred Holroyd, former Garda Commissioner Eamon Doherty, and retired bomb disposal experts Lieutenant Colonel George Styles (British Army) and Commandant Patrick Trears (Irish Army) all suggested the bombs were not characteristic of the UVF and that it could not have mounted the attack without help from the security forces.[27] It was suggested that elements of the British security forces were using loyalist paramilitaries as proxies. It was said that a significant element within the security forces favoured a military solution to the conflict, and opposed a political solution, which was being pursued by the UK's Labour government.[27] Merlyn Rees, the British government's Northern Ireland Secretary, believed that his polices in pursuit of peace in 1974 had been undermined by a faction in British Army Intelligence.[27] The inference was that the bombings were intended to wreck the Sunningdale Agreement and to make both governments take a stronger line against the IRA.[27]

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 [sic] 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.[30]

Campaign by victims' families

In 1996, relatives of the victims of the bombings, Justice for the Forgotten, launched a campaign for a public inquiry.[31] The group believed that they had been forgotten by the Irish state and that British forces may have been involved in the bombings.[32]

On 23 July 1997, the group lobbied the European Parliament. MEPs from many countries supported a call for the British government to release its files relating to the bombings. On 27 August that year, however, an Irish court declined to order the release of the files.[33]

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, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern appointed Mr Justice Liam Hamilton to undertake an inquiry into the bombings. The inquiry began work early in 2000 and in October Mr Justice Henry Barron was appointed to succeed Mr Justice Hamilton.[33] The Irish Government and others reported that the British Government were slow to co-operate with the inquiry.[33] It wrote to the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, in November 2000. He replied in February 2002,[33] saying that British documents on the bombings would not be made available due to national security concerns. The 'Barron Report' was published in December 2003.[33] The report said it was likely that British security force personnel were involved in the bombings but had insufficient evidence of higher-level involvement. However, the inquiry reported that it was hindered by the British Government's refusal to release key documents. For details on the Barron Report's findings, see below.

An Irish government Sub-Committee was then established to consider the Barron Report and make recommendations. These recommendations (which are outlined below) were published in March 2004. It recommended the Irish Government bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights to force the British Government to hold a public inquiry into the bombings. In June 2005, the Irish Government said it would consider bringing the British Government to the European Court of Justice, to force the release the files on the bombings.[34] Two motions were passed unanimously by the Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) in 2008 and 2011, urging the British Government to make the documents available to an independent, international judicial figure for assessment. In 2012 and 2013, Justice for the Forgotten met with the British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and proposed the documents be assessed in Britain by an agreed assessor. However, a further meeting to move the process forward was cancelled by the British side in November 2013.[35] In May 2014, the victims' families announced that they were taking a civil action against British government agencies including the British Ministry of Defence, the Northern Ireland Office and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.[36]

The Barron Report

Main findings

On 10 December 2003, Mr Justice Henry Barron's report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings was published.[15][37] The publication of the report caused a sensation in Ireland, as shown by the political and media reaction.[38] It is generally agreed that the report raised more questions than it answered and that it opened up new avenues of inquiry.

Regarding the circumstances and perpetrators of the bombings, it said the following:

  • The bombings were carried out by two groups of loyalist paramilitaries, one based in Belfast and the other in the Portadown/Lurgan area. Most, though not all of those involved were members of the UVF.
  • 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.
  • It is likely that UDR soldiers and RUC officers helped prepare the attack, or were aware of the preparations. It is also likely that the farm of RUC officer James Mitchell at Glenanne played a big part in the preparations. Based on the material available, there is insufficient evidence that senior security force personnel were involved. However, it is possible that UDR/RUC involvement was covered-up at a higher level.
  • There is no evidence that any branch of the security forces knew of the bombings beforehand. If they did know, it is unlikely there would be any official records.
  • The Inquiry believes that within a short time of the bombings, the security forces in Northern Ireland had good intelligence to suggest who was responsible. Furthermore, some of the suspects were reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and RUC Special Branch officers.[39]

The Inquiry said it was obstructed by the British authorities in investigating collusion and faced the same problems as the Stevens Inquiry.[40] The British government refused to show the Inquiry intelligence documents, and the Inquiry said this hindered its investigation.[41]

Criticism of the Irish police and government

The Barron Report criticized the Irish police (Garda) investigation into the bombings, and the reaction of the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time. The Report said that the Garda investigation failed to make full use of the information it had.[42] For example, when the RUC told the Gardaí it had arrested some of the suspected bombers, the Gardaí apparently did not ask their names nor what information led to their arrest.[43] It revealed that there is a great deal of official Garda documentation that is missing.[44] Barron said that Department of Justice files on the Dublin bombings were "missing in their entirety" and that the Department did not give any records to the Inquiry. The Report concluded that the Garda investigation team stopped their work before they should have.[45] The specially-appointed investigation team was disbanded in July 1974, two months after the bombings.[46]

Barron's report noted that the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time "showed little interest in the bombings" and did not do enough to help the investigation.[42] "When information was given to them suggesting that the British authorities had intelligence naming the bombers, this was not followed up".[42] It failed to put political pressure on the British government to secure better co-operation from the RUC. It was also alleged that the Fine Gael/Labour government caused or allowed the Garda investigation to end prematurely, for fear that the findings would play into the hands of republicans.[47] However, the Inquiry had insufficient evidence the investigation was stopped as a result of political interference.[42]

Sub-Committee recommendations

Following the release of the Barron Report, an Oireachtas Sub-Committee was established to consider the Report and make recommendations. These recommendations were published in March 2004 as a 'Final Report'.

The Sub-Committee concluded there should be further and extensive investigation into the culprits and claims that British forces colluded with the bombers.[48] It said the information it received has reinforced the suspicion that there was collusion.[48] However, it noted that to investigate this, access to documentation and witnesses in the UK is vital.[48]

Because the documentation and suspects are in the UK, the Sub-Committee said there should be a Public Tribunal of Inquiry in Northern Ireland and/or Britain. It recommended the Irish Government bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights to force the British Government to hold such an inquiry into the bombings.[49] In 2005, the Irish Government threatened to bring the British government to the European Court of Justice, to force it to release its files on the bombings. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was not enough evidence to justify a public inquiry.[50]

Following a recommendation from the Sub-Committee, the Irish Government established a further commission of investigation in May 2005 under Patrick McEntee. The 'McEntee Inquiry' was tasked to investigate why the Garda investigation was wound down, why the Garda did not follow-up on some leads, and the missing Garda documents.[51][52] The report was handed to the Irish government in March 2007[53] and published shortly thereafter.

Subsequent reports 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 UVF members, amounting to "international terrorism" on the part of British forces.[54]

Allegations of British security force involvement

Colin Wallace's claims

At the time of the bombings, Colin Wallace was a senior British Army Intelligence officer at the Army's Northern Ireland headquarters. Since his resignation in 1975, he has exposed scandals involving the security forces, including state collusion with loyalists. He gave evidence to the Barron Inquiry.

In an August 1975 letter to Tony Stoughton, chief of the British Army Information Service in Northern Ireland, Wallace writes:

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 Northern Ireland], some of those involved – the Youngs, the Jacksons, Mulholland, Hanna, Kerr and McConnell – were working closely with [Special Branch] and [Military Intelligence] at that time. Craig's people believe the sectarian assassinations were designed to destroy 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.[55]

In a further letter of September 1975, Wallace writes that MI5 was backing a group of UVF hardliners who opposed the UVF's move toward politics. He adds:

I believe much of the violence generated during the latter part of last year was caused by some of the new [Intelligence] 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![55]

In his evidence to the Barron Inquiry, Wallace argues that the security forces had so thoroughly infiltrated the UVF they would have known such a huge bombing operation was being planned and who was involved.[56] He then noted that the bombing investigation team was disbanded a very short time after the bombings.[57] Barron noted that Wallace's 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."[58]

As with Fred Holroyd and John Weir, there were unsuccessful attempts to undermine Colin Wallace. Barron notes that Wallace was targeted by the same security services he had served. He was forced to resign in 1975, ostensibly for trying to pass a classified document to journalist Robert Fisk. Wallace claims the real reasons for his dismissal were his refusal to continue working on the Clockwork Orange project, and his discovery that the security forces were involved in a child sex abuse ring. After his dismissal, Wallace attempted to expose these scandals, as well as state collusion with loyalists. In 1980, shortly after making some of his allegations, he was arrested and convicted of manslaughter. He was released on parole in 1985 and proclaimed his innocence. Various people have alleged that Wallace was framed. He later had his conviction overturned and was paid £30,000 compensation for unjust dismissal from government service. His role within the British Army intelligence service had been officially, though belatedly, acknowledged in 1990.[59] Wallace was fully vindicated.[60][61]

John Weir's claims

John Weir was an officer in the RUC's Special Patrol Group during the 1970s. In 1980, he and fellow RUC officer Billy McCaughey were convicted of taking part in the murder of a Catholic civilian. Following their convictions, they implicated fellow RUC officers and UDR soldiers in a string of loyalist attacks. In a sworn affidavit, Weir revealed that he had been part of the 'Glenanne gang' – a secret alliance of UVF members and security force personnel who carried out numerous attacks on the Irish Catholic and Irish nationalist community in the 1970s. Most of its attacks took place in the area of County Armagh and Tyrone referred to as the "murder triangle", but it also launched some attacks in the Republic. According to Weir, this included the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.[62] He named people who he said were involved in a number of these attacks. He also named a farm in Glenanne, he claimed was used as a base of operations by the group. Furthermore, he alleged that senior RUC officers knew of, and gave tacit approval to, these activities.[63]

According to Weir, the main organizer of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings was Billy Hanna, a UDR sergeant and UVF 'brigadier'. He claimed that Hanna, Robin Jackson, Davy Payne and William Marchant carried out the Dublin bombings, while Stewart Young and brothers John & Wesley Somerville (both UDR soldiers) carried out the Monaghan bombing.[64][65] He claimed the explosives had been provided by Captain John Irwin, a UDR Intelligence Officer, and that the bombs had been assembled at the Glenanne farm of RUC officer James Mitchell, with help from fellow officer Laurence McClure.[65] Weir claims British Army Intelligence and the RUC knew who the culprits were but did not arrest them.[65] Furthermore, he says it is likely that Army Intelligence/RUC knew about the bombings beforehand, due to its contacts with the Glenanne group.[65]

The RUC furnished the Gardaí with a report that attempted to undermine Weir's evidence. Barron found this RUC report to be highly inaccurate and lacking credibility.[66] The Barron Inquiry believes that Weir’s evidence is credible, and "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".[67][68] The Barron Inquiry found evidence to support Weir's claims. This included a chain of ballistics history linking the same weapons to many of the attacks Weir outlined.[69] Journalist Susan McKay noted that "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".[69]

Fred Holroyd's claims

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 said that "the bombings were part of a pattern of collusion between elements of the security forces in Northern Ireland and loyalist paramilitaries".[70] He claimed that the main organizer of the bombings, UDR sergeant Billy Hanna, had contact with an intelligence officer who reported to Holroyd.[71]

Holroyd also claimed that elements of the Irish security forces secretly agreed to 'freeze' border areas for British forces. This meant Irish forces would leave an area for a given amount of time, primarily so that British forces could cross the border to kidnap IRA members.[72] Holroyd claimed the Assistant Garda Commissioner, Edmund Garvey, 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, Barron found: "The visit by Holroyd to Garda Headquarters unquestionably did take place, notwithstanding former Commissioner Garvey's inability to recall it".[73] Garvey was dismissed by the incoming Fianna Fáil Government in 1978, who simply stated it no longer had confidence in him as Garda Commissioner.

The Barron Inquiry found that members of the Gardaí and RUC attempted to unfairly and unjustly undermine Holroyd's evidence. It says 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".[74]

Popular Culture References

The Song 'Raised by Wolves' by U2, from their 2014 album Songs of Innocence references the Talbot street bombing. The liner notes to the album mention a childhood friend of lead singer Bono who witnessed the aftermath of the bombings: "the scene never left him" and he struggled with addiction.

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Call for probe of British link to 1974 bombs". RTÉ News. 17 May 2008.
  2. Oireachtas Sub-Committee report on the Barron Report (2004), p.25
  3. 3.0 3.1 Barron Report (2003), pp.275-279
  4. Oireachtas Sub-Committee report on the Barron Report (2004), p.21
  5. Barron Report (2003), p.242
  6. McKittrick, David. Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Random House, 2001. p.447
  7. Barron Report (2003), Appendices, p.22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Barron Report (2003), pp.1-4
  9. Kilfeather, Siobhan Marie (2005). Dublin: a Cultural History. Signal Books. p.219
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Barron Report (2003), pp.48-49
  11. The Irish Independent, 28 April 2004. Retrieved 28 October 2009
  12. Barron Report (2003): Transcript from Yorkshire Television's: The Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre, p.5
  13. "1974: Bombs devastate Dublin and Monaghan". On This Day: 17 May. BBC Online. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  14. Hutton, Brian (5 April 2007). "It was like something out of Dante’s Inferno’". Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Barron Report (2003), p.7
  16. Barron Report (2003), p.75
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 Barron Report (2003), pp.5-6
  18. Yorkshire Television, The Hidden Hand documentary.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Melaugh, Martin. "A Chronology of the Conflict - 1974". Conflict Archive on the Internet,. University of Ulster. 
  20. Barron Report (2003), p.4
  22. Barron Report (2003), p.47
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Mullan, Don. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Wolfhound Press, 2000. pp.133-134
  24. 24.0 24.1 Dublin and Monaghan Bombings: Statement by Taoiseach 21 May, 1974; accessed August 2010
  25. Rapple, Rory (2 January 2005). "'Irish have taken the point': British Envoy on Dublin bombs", Sunday Business Post
  26. Transcript in Interim Barron Report, Appendix 1.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 27.7 27.8 Barron Report (2003), pp.132-136
  28. Interim Barron Report, Appendix 1. pp.14–15
  29. Joe Tiernan (2000). The Dublin Bombings and the Murder Triangle. Ireland: Mercier Press. p.95
  30. CAIN: UVF: Statement by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), 15 July 1993
  31. RTÉ Primetime report. 9 December 2003.
  32. Submission to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation at Dublin Castle by Alice O'Brien on behalf of the Dublin & Monaghan Bombings Relatives Committee (April 1995). Justice for the Forgotten.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 Melaugh, Martin. "Dublin and Monaghan Bombs - Chronology of Events". Conflict Archive on the Internet. University of Ulster. 
  34. "Govt may take case over 1974 bombings". RTÉ News, 8 March 2005.
  35. "Families of Dublin and Monaghan bombings to take civil procedings against British". Irish Times, 15 May 2014.
  36. "Dublin-Monaghan bombs: victims sue British government ". BBC News, 14 May 2014.
  37. See extensive report summaries. Irish Independent, 11 December 2003
  38. 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 [1] Irish Independent, 11 December 2003
  39. Barron Report (2003), pp.286-288
  40. Barron Report (2003), p.281
  41. Final Barron Report (2004), p.21
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 Barron Report (2003), pp.275-276
  43. Cabinet 'failed to show concern', Report points finger at Coalition apathy
  44. Final Barron Report (2004), p.26
  45. Barron Report (2003), p.279
  46. Barron Report (2003), p.78
  47. Barron Report (2003), p.125
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 Oireachtas Sub-Committee report on the Barron Report (2004), pp.74-75
  49. Oireachtas Sub-Committee report on the Barron Report (2004), pp.76-77
  50. Govt may take case over 1974 bombings RTÉ News, 8 March 2005
  51. McEntee Report (2007), p.29
  52. "Nevin appeal seeks State papers on witnesses at trial". The Irish Times, 4 April 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2009
  53. Irish government receives latest report into Dublin-Monaghan bombs, Belfast Telegraph, 13 March 2007
  54. See audio and video at "Ahern says UK must examine collusion findings". RTÉ News, 29 November 2006
  55. 55.0 55.1 Browne, Michael (10 December 2006). "Death Squad Dossier", Irish Mail on Sunday also partly quoted in Barron Report (2003) p. 172; see also, "Butchered by the British". Irish Daily Mail, 30 November 2006
  56. Barron Report (2003), p.173
  57. Heatley, Colm (25 February 2007), "British and UVF met 10 days after bombs killed 33", Sunday Business Post
  58. Barron Report (2003), p. 121
  59. Archie Hamilton, British Junior Defence Minister, parliamentary reply on Wallace, correcting previous misleading information, Hansard, 30 January 1990
  60. Barron Report (2003), pp. 167-168
  61. See also Who Framed Colin Wallace by Paul Foot, Pan 1990, ISBN 0-330-31446-7, and, also by Paul Foot, The final vindication, The Guardian, 2 October 2002, and "Inside story: MI5 mischief", The Guardian, 22 July 1996
  62. Barron Report (2003), p.144
  63. Barron Report (2003), p.88
  64. Barron Report (2003), pp.145-146
  65. 65.0 65.1 65.2 65.3 Affidavit of John Weir, 3 January 1999
  66. Barron Report (2003), pp.148-151
  67. Barron Report (2003), p.162
  68. Claims of collusion 'must be taken seriously', by Alison Bray, Irish Independent, 11 December 2003, see also Profiles of Weir: Clarke, Liam (7 March 1999) "RUC man's secret war with the IRA", Sunday Times;
    Connolly, Frank (16 November 2006) "I'm lucky to be above Ground", Village
  69. 69.0 69.1 McKay, Susan (14 December 2003). Barron throws light on a little shock of horrors, by Sunday Tribune
  70. Barron Report (2003), p.179
  71. Barron Report (2003), p.241
  72. Barron Report (2003), p.198
  73. Barron report, pp. 199-200, 206–07
  74. Barron Report (2003), p.29

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