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1 April 2004 Edition

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Conditional welcome for Dublin/Monaghan bomb report

BY JOANNE CORCORAN

"We've won the argument, but will we be allowed reap the rewards?" These were the words of Greg O'Neill yesterday, as it became clear what is to be recommended by the Oireachtas Committee investigating the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings.

The Justice Sub-Committee was set up in December, after publication of Justice Henry Barron's report into the bombings. Yesterday it issued a report recommending an international investigation chaired by an international judge, into the 1974 tragedy.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, solicitor Greg O'Neill of Justice for the Forgotten, the group that represents families of those murdered and injured in the atrocities, said: "Today the debate is no longer about whether a further inquiry is needed, but what form that inquiry should take."

O'Neill said the Oireachtas report acknowledged the legitimacy of the group's concerns; accepted that the Barron Report did not bring closure to the issue; and most importantly, confirmed that there is a compelling case to have a further inquiry.

Bernie McNally, also of the group, said: "The recommendation of the Committee meets some of the demands of the families for an international human rights inquiry, but the form of investigation does not have the hallmarks of being public."

McNally expressed concern that the Committee further recommended a separate independent investigation into the issue of files missing from the Dept of Justice and from Garda headquarters.

"We want one effective and efficient inquiry," she said. "Whilst the issue of the missing files is worrying and important, we don't see the efficacy of multiple inquiries on selected aspects of the Dublin and Monaghan case."

O'Neill insisted that the entire conduct of the GardaĆ­ and the Department of Justice requires urgent and independent public investigation.

"We do not need further private inquiries," O'Neill said. "We don't need a further interim inquiry. We don't need further partial inquiries. The next issue has to be properly constituted, and bring finality to the issue."

Calling on the 26-County Government to ensure full co-operation from the British Government in a public inquiry, O'Neill said: "We are willing to work with any internationally constituted inquiry, but such an inquiry must meet internationally recognised standards.

"It must be speedily established and properly resourced; independent; have legal powers in both jurisdictions; have the committed support of both governments; be transparent, ie. can and will take and test evidence in public, and report in public; and be fully involved and engaged with the victims and their representatives."

He added that any inquiry lacking these essential features would not win the cooperation or confidence of the victims.

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