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The Dublin and Monaghan Bombs - Summary of Events

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Text: Martin Melaugh
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Dublin and Monaghan Bombs - Summary of Events

"Someone planted the bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in 1972-74 and for both general and specific purpose. The chosen candidates have always been the loyalist paramilitaries, even if some wistfully hoped the IRA might have been responsible, at least for the December 1972 explosions. And in the case of May 1974 the specific involvement of the mid-Ulster UVF can be taken as actual, though not a matter of law. Far more interesting has been the almost universal assumption of most actors and nearly all observers in Ireland that the British in some manner were involved, certainly in 1972 and almost certainly in 1974, whether directly or indirectly, by rogue elements in the field or through special groups operating independently of higher command. The very fact that neither the RUC nor the British army undertook serious investigation is an indicator that the possibility was quite real north of the border, within the security establishment as well as in the Republic."
Bell, J. Bowyer. (1996) In Dubious Battle: The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1972-1974. Dublin: Poolbeg Press Ltd. [pp.157-158]

"Then I was called to a man covered by a plank. When I lifted it up one of his legs was missing and lying nearby. One side of his head was completely ripped away and was lying on the ground. A child aged about 12 lay nearby. At the scene there were bodies all over the place; many people were in deep shock, and there were terrible injuries."
Esma Crabbe (15), volunteer with St. Johnís Ambulance who assisted at Parnell Street. Quoted in Evening Press, 18 May 1974.


The term 'Dublin and Monaghan bombings' refers to four car bombs that exploded in Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland, on Friday 17 May 1974. 33 civilians and one unborn child died as a result of the four explosions. Approximately 258 people were injured. The bombings resulted in the greatest loss of life in a single day of the conflict. No one was ever arrested or convicted of causing the explosions.

Initially the two main Loyalist paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), denied responsibility for the bombings. However, on 6 July 1993 Yorkshire Television broadcast a documentary entitled 'Hidden Hand - the Forgotten Massacre' made as part of its 'First Tuesday' series. The programme dealt with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The programme concluded that the UVF carried out the attacks but would have required assistance to plan the attacks and prepare the bombs. There was speculation that elements of the British security forces in Northern Ireland were the most likely source of such assistance. Following the broadcast the UVF released a statement on 15 July 1993 in which the organisation admitted sole responsibility for the bombings.

Members of 'Justice For the Forgotten', the group representing families of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, began a campaign to put pressure on the Irish government to establish a full public Inquiry into the bombings. On 19 December 1999 Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), announced the appointment of Justice Liam Hamilton to undertake a private Inquiry into the bombings of 1974. Hamiltion became ill in October 2000 and was succeeded by Justice Henry Barron. 'The Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings' [The Barron Report] was published by the Department of the Taoiseach, on 10 December 2003.


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