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7 August 2003 Edition

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Collusion claimed many lives in 26 Counties

BY MÍCHEÁL MacDONNCHA - British state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, or indeed direct operations by British forces, also took a heavy toll of lives in the 26 Counties. These include:

  • The bombing of Belturbet, Co. Cavan in December 1972 in which two teenage civilians were killed.
  • The Dublin bombings of December 1972 and January 1973 in which three bus workers were killed.
  • The Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974 in which 33 people died - 26 in Dublin and 7 in Monaghan.
  • The killing of Vol John Francis Green in Co. Monaghan in January 1975.
  • The Dundalk bombing of December 1975 in which two civilians were killed.
  • The Castleblayney bombing of March 1976 in which one civilian, Patrick Mone, was killed.
  • The killing of civilian Seamus Ludlow by the UDR in Co. Louth in May 1976.
  • The killing of Vol Martin Doherty in May 1994, having foiled an attempted bombing of the Widow Scallan's pub in Dublin.

What do they know?

The inquiry by Judge Barron into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, as well as a number of the other incidents listed here, is due to report shortly. The report will then go to an Oireachtas Committee, which will hold hearings. That Committee should call former Dublin government ministers to tell what they know of collusion.

The governments of Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Jack Lynch and of Fine Gael Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave were deeply implicated in the whole issue of collusion between British intelligence and loyalist paramilitaries and direct action by British Intelligence itself in the 26 Counties.

During Lynch's time as Taoiseach up to 1973, British agents were very active in the 26 Counties. These included the Littlejohn brothers, English criminals hired by British intelligence to act as agent provocateurs. British spy John Wyman infiltrated the Garda Special Branch with the aid of senior Branchman Patrick Crinnion. While these four were all arrested, the full extent of British operations in the 26 Counties in that period has never been revealed. When challenged on this, Lynch denied knowledge and later claimed he had forgotten about it. But senior surviving ministers in that government, especially the then Justice Minister Dessie O'Malley, could answer questions.

Crinnion and other Garda agents supplied the British with information on republicans but this whole process was actually formalised during the Cosgrave-led Fine Gael/Labour Coalition between 1973 and 1977. British Intelligence became the Gardaí's 'source' of information on loyalists - even though it was British Intelligence which was in fact directing the operations of loyalists, and especially operations in the 26 Counties. Information flowed from the gardaí both through official channels as agreed by the two governments and unofficially through British agents within the gardaí.

Obviously, the role of the gardaí in protecting people in the 26 Counties from British/loyalist attack was deeply compromised. And they were following the lead of their political masters, the likes of Justice Minister Paddy Cooney and Minister for Posts and Telegraphs Conor Cruise O'Brien, who, in the wake of the Dublin/Monaghan massacre of May 1974 blamed republicans for 'provoking' loyalists and warned people in the 26 Counties not to support republicanism.

The role of O'Malley, Cooney, O'Brien, Foreign Affairs Minister Garret FitzGerald and other ministers who came after them must be probed. What do they know? The demand should go out for them to be made answerable.

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