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29 January 2004 Edition

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30 years on and still in denial

"I want to express the revulsion and condemnation felt by every decent person on this island at these unforgivable acts." These were the words of Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in the aftermath of the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings, atrocities that left 33 people dead. They were shallow words of consolation from a government which promptly turned the brutal butchering of its own people by outside forces into an excuse to further demonise republicans.

The testimony of former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald on Tuesday before an Oireachtas sub-committee on the recently published Barron Report, only served to show how the members of that government still refuse to accept that their response to the tragedy was an absolute disgrace.

Fitzgerald, Minister for Foreign Affairs in the '74 coalition government, claimed that the question of collusion between British Forces and loyalist paramilitaries was never considered by himself or his colleagues. His excuse for his government's failure to pursue the matter was that it wouldn't have been pertinent to interfere in a garda investigation.

The then Minister for Justice, Paddy Cooney, giving evidence on Wednesday, continued defending the coalition's position by slamming the Barron Report - which said his government wasn't interesting in bringing the bombers to justice - saying that it wasn't worth the paper it was written on.

The response from these two men is typical of the government they were associated with, an administration in the pocket of the British.

After the immediate statements from the government expressing condolences, the mentality that the bombings were a result of IRA activities took over. Instead of dealing with the slaughter of civilians within its own borders, and acknowledging the situation that existed in the Six Counties, the government decided to use the killings for its own anti-republican agenda.

Speeches from Cosgrave, Fitzgerald, Cooney, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs Conor Cruise O'Brien, the then opposition leader Jack Lynch and Attorney General Declan Costello, all drove home that stance.

The bombings themselves were played down, causing untold suffering to those who had been affected by them. In only a few instances were victims' families visited by politicians. No national day of mourning, like the one for Bloody Sunday, was called. A decision to fly the Tricolour at half-mast was reversed. There was no government initiative to set up a fund for the dependants of those murdered. No counselling was offered to the families. And there were no progress reports provided to the families by the Gardaí.

The claim that the government couldn't interfere with Garda investigations is nonsense. The bombings, indicating as they did, British collusion, should have involved far more than a simple criminal investigation.

The 1974-1977 Fine Gael/Labour coalition government was characterised by right-wing economic policies and vicious anti-republicanism, involving some of the state's most repressive legislation.

It's members' continued refusal to acknowledge their blinkered approach and woefully inadequate response to the massacre adds further insult to the families.

We can only hope that the Oireachtas sub-committee makes a decision in favour of a public inquiry. The leaders of the 1974 coalition should be forced to look the families and survivors in the eye and accept the role they played in denying them the justice they deserved.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtar√°n Mary Lou McDonald.

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