12 August 1999 Edition
Report of the Victims Commission
Dublin/Monaghan and Ludlow inquiries must be public
BY MICHEAL MacDONNCHA
There is strong evidence in the hands of the Irish government that there was British military involvement in the bombings. There is also a strong and justified belief among the relatives that the Irish authorities failed to carry out a proper investigation.
- Caoimhghín O Caoláin
Widespread disappointment has been expressed at the recommendation in the Report of the Victims Commission that an inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of 1974 and the murder of Seamus Ludlow should be held in private. Angry relatives and victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings at the launch of the Report told John Wilson of the Victims Commission that a private inquiry was not acceptable.
The Victims Commission was established in May last year to review services and arrangements in place to meet the needs of those who have suffered as a result of the conflict over the past 30 years. Former Tánaiste John Wilson was appointed to carry out the task. He issued his Report last week.
Most attention has focused on the recommendations in the Report relating to the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and the 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow by three UVF members who were also in the UDR. The Wilson Report recommends that a retired Supreme Court judge be appointed to privately conduct an inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, and that a similar inquiry should be conducted in the Ludlow case.
Frank Massey, who lost his daughter Anna in the bomb in Dublin's South Leinster Street, said he had ``no confidence'' in a private inquiry. Martesa Karney, one of the injured who is still receiving treatment 25 years later, said that the private inquiry recommendation ``only rubbed salt in the wound''. Greg O'Neill, solicitor for Justice for the Forgotten, the Relatives and Victims' Committee said a private inquiry fuelled fears of a cover-up.
Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin gave his reaction:
``For 25 years the survivors and the bereaved of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings have been kept completely in the dark by both the Irish and British authorities. An inquiry held in private is not acceptable. There is strong evidence in the hands of the Irish government that there was British military involvement in the bombings. There is also a strong and justified belief among the relatives that the Irish authorities failed to carry out a proper investigation.
``The Taoiseach himself was handed evidence earlier this year by the legal representatives of the relatives and bereaved which names a British intelligence office, a UDR captain and an RUC officer, all of whom were involved in the plot, according to the testimony of one of the conspirators.
``What is needed therefore is a full judicial inquiry conducted in public. The RUC, the British Army and the gardai must make available the information in their hands. The inquiry must also have the ability to open to public scrutiny the role of both the British and Irish authorities in this matter.
Other aspects of the Report have received much less media attention but are very significant.
Forestry worker Seamus Ludlow was murdered in County Louth in 1976 by three members of the UDR who were also UVF men. This has been revealed by a fourth man, Paul Hosking, who was with the UDR men on the night. No-one was ever charged with the murder even though the RUC knew the killers' identity since at least 1987 when Hosking gave his evidence to them. But the role of the gardai has caused just as much anger. For years they told the Ludlow family that they believed the IRA killed their loved one, even though they knew this was not the case. The Wilson Report says:
``I find the allegations about the conduct of certain Gardai Síochána, and about the conduct of the investigation itself, very disturbing.''
Louth Sinn Féin County Councillor Arthur Morgan called for a public inquiry and said:
``There are questions to be answered by State agencies, including the Garda, the Garda Special Branch in Louth and Dublin, and Irish Army Intelligence.''
The Victims Commission Report urges the publication of the Garda report on the 1988 murder of Aidan McAnespie by the British Army at the Aughnacloy checkpoint on the Monaghan/Tyrone border. McAnespie was walking to a GAA ground when he was killed with a single shot fired from the tower of the checkpoint. The British issued two conflicting versions of what happened and charges of unlawful killing against a soldier, David Holden, were later dropped.
The Report also calls on the Irish Government to urge the British government to publish the Stalker/Sampson Report into RUC shoot-to-kill operations in the early 1980s and the Stevens Report into collusion between British forces and loyalist paramilitaries.
Specific recognition is given in the Report to those displaced from the North of Ireland to the 26 Counties as a result of the conflict, and it recommends financial compensation. The Report mentions three submissions it received from people now living in County Monaghan who had to leave the Six Counties because of threats and harassment from British forces and/or loyalists. Caoimhghín O Caoláin said that there was much that was positive in the Report:
``John Wilson's Report is very significant and gives long overdue recognition to many of those in the 26 Counties who have been affected by the conflict. I urge all concerned to study the Report carefully and I urge the government to implement its positive recommendations, while at the same time ensuring that inquiries into the Dublin/Monaghan and Ludlow cases are conducted in public.''
What the Report recommends:
* Retired Supreme Court judge to conduct in private a report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
* Similar inquiry into the murder of Seamus Ludlow.
* Publication of the Garda report into the murder of Aidan McAnespie by the British Army at Aughnacloy.
* Dublin government to press the British to publish the Stalker/Sampson Report into RUC shoot-to-kill operations and the Stevens Report into British/loyalist collusion.
* Victims Pension for certain categories of victims; acknowledgement payments to families of those killed and to cover victims' continuing costs arising from the injuries done to them.
* Establishment of Independent Victims' Cultural and Historical Resource Body to encourage victims to tell their stories; memorial schemes to be explored including day of remembrance, memorial building and victims' archive.
* Payments of up to £10,000 to bereaved families or injured people who have had to move to the 26 Counties as a result of the conflict and who can show economic needs as a result; relocation grant of up to £5,000 to those injured and bereaved who wish to return to the 26 Counties.
* People living outside the jurisdiction who may face outstanding charges in the 26 Counties arising out of the conflict to be allowed to apply for a review of their cases by the DPP for a decision as to whether they still have a case to answer; Dublin government to press for similar arrangement in Six Counties.