31 July 1997 Edition

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Dublin/Monaghan bombings - families seek justice


The families of the victims of the greatest mass murder in the history of Ireland, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974 have been delayed in their campaign for justice, as High Court Judge Mary Lavoy will not pass judgement until 27 August. The families want the court to compel gardai to release documents in their possession relating to the bombings in which 33 people were murdered, and 240 were injured.

For the past year, the victims' relatives are seeking to take the RUC to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, for breach of article two of the convention, which states that the ``police must protect life, or conduct a proper investigation in the event of loss of life''. The solicitor for the families, Greg O'Neill, put it to Justice Lavoy that the gardai had sent a document to the RUC, stating that they had eight suspects for the bombings, all residing in the Six Counties, and had requested that they be interviewed by the Gardai. Their request was refused.

O'Neill also stated that the gardai had ``expressed their frustration at the failure of the RUC to investigate properly.'' In a letter to the then Chief Constable to determine this, O'Neill asked had any houses been raided, had a file been sent to the DPP, or had an identification lineup been conducted. The RUC's curt reply stated that ``Your application/enquiry to the Eurocourt is a matter for the Government, and not the Chief Constable.''

``It would appear that the RUC didn't instigate a proper investigation,'' said a source close to the families. Frank Massey, who lost his daughter to the atrocity was asked if he was confident of the case going to Europe. ``I hope so, I surely do,'' he replied. ``After such a long time, I expect a positive outcome. We just don't know.'' ``It would only be justice to have such an outcome,'' added a spokesperson for the families.

MIchelle Byrne, who was only 10 years old when her father was murdered in the bombings expressed hope that the Garda documents, requesting the RUC to conduct an investigation will be released.

``We've been led up the garden path for the past 23 years, and I wouldn't say we're grasping at straws, but we're trying to do everything in our power that the government, our government should have done 23 years ago. I was 10 when I lost my father. I'm in my 30's now and never thought it would take this long.''

Justice Mary Lavoy will pass judgement on the validity of the case for the European Court of Human Rights on 27 August.

Fianna Fail, at their 1997 Ard Fheis, unanimously voted to see to it that the Garda and Government documents relating to the bombings were passed on to the families. Sinn Féin members of Monaghan Urban District Council, Caomhghín ó Caoláin TD, Owen Smyth and Pádrigín Uí Mhurchadadh called on the Government to honour this promise and to immediatly provide the families with all the relevant files of the Depts. of Justice and Defence and the Garda Siochana.

Owen Smyth said that the motion had been placed on the agenda of the July meeting of the council at the request of the families. Pádrigín Uí Mhurcadadh stated that the families had been encouraged by the FF Ard Fheis statement.

``The relatives have been neglected and should be brought in from the cold,'' she added.

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