BRITISH STATE TERROR-BOMBING OF DUBLIN COMMEMORATED

Clive Sulish

(Reading time: 4 mins.)

The 1974 British Intelligence and Loyalist bombing of Dublin and Monaghan towns, with the highest number of people killed in one day during the 30 Years’ War, was commemorated in Dublin today at the Memorial in Talbot Street, near the corner with Amiens Street. The commemoration, organised by the perennial Justice for the Forgotten campaign, was addressed by the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) and elected representatives of Dublin and Monaghan municipalities. A poet and two musicians performed, wreaths were laid and one former politician gave a strong oration highly critical of the Irish, British colonial and British authorities.

On 17th May 1974, around the work-leaving and shopping-ending busy time of 5.30pm, three car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in the centre of Dublin. The car bombs had been parked in the mainly working and lower-middle class sParnell Street, Talbot Street, and South Leinster Street (as distinct from such streets as Henry, Grafton or Dawson streets, for example). Twenty-six people were killed in Dublin. To cover their way back across the British border, another car-bomb was set off in Monaghan Town, killing another seven. Even excluding a full-term unborn child, the total death toll was 33, the highest number killed in any one day of the three decades of conflict. Around 300 were injured.

Suspicion should naturally fall in the first place on the British Loyalists, since they had been planting bombs in Dublin since 1969 and in 1972 and 1973 their bombs had killed Dublin public transport workers. But the authorities had pretended to believe that the IRA was responsible for the 1972 bombing and used the panic around it to steamroll repressive political legislation through the Dáil, thereby setting up the no-jury Special Criminal Courts to sent Irish Republicans to jail.

However, it is believed that Irish Army Intelligence and Garda Intelligence were quickly aware that the Dublin and Monaghan bombers had in fact been Loyalists of the Ulster Volunteer Force and even knew the names of a number of them.

The Irish parliament‘s Joint Committee on Justicecalled the attacks an act of international terrorism involving British state forces.The month before the bombings, the British government had lifted the UVF’s status as a proscribed organisation.

No one has ever been charged with the bombings. A campaign by the victims’ families led to an Irish government inquiry under Justice Henry Barron. His 2003 report criticised the Garda Síochána‘s investigation and said the investigators stopped their work prematurely. It also criticised the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time for its inaction and lack of interest in the bombings. The report said it was likely that British security force personnel or MI5 intelligence was involved but had insufficient evidence of higher-level involvement.” (Wikipedia)

Incredibly, despite long-standing allegations of collusion between the colonial police, the RUC (now the PSNI) and Loyalists, the Gardaí sent the car-bomb remnants to the RUC for analysis. Shortly after that, Ned Garvey rose from the Deputy position to Gárda Commissioner and met with a British secret agent in his office – without informing his superiors. When the agent began to blow the whistle on his past activities he exposed Garvey as a British “asset” – Garvey of course denied it but had to admit he had indeed met clandestinely with the agent in his office. When the Fianna Fáil goverment came in, they sacked Garvey as “not having confidence” in him but did it so baldly and outside established procedures that Garvey was able to take the Government to court, have his pension secured and have damages awarded to him!

BRITISH POLICY OF COLLUSION WITH LOYALIST MURDER GANGS

Most experts have been clear that construction of the type of bomb used was beyond the capability of the Loyalists at that time and, in any case, it is clear that British Intelligence and military were working with Loyalist gangs, as were the RUC (some of whom were members of the gangs) and RUC Special Branch. In addition there were reports of British accents in connection with suspects.

Collusion of that type had been openly advocated by a British military expert on counter-insurgency, Major (later Brigadier) Frank Kitson, for example in his “Gangs and Counter-gangs” (1960), based on his experiences in fighting the Kenyan insurgency for national liberation.

Frank Kitson (now Brigadier) in 1971 (Photo source: Internet)

Brigadier Frank Kitson was operational commander of the occupation forces in the British colony from 1970-’72 and left a substantial legacy of military assassinations and collusion with Loyalist murder gangs, along with other “dirty war” operations before he went on to lecture at British military training college.

….. the de Silva Report (2013) on collusion with loyalist paramilitaries led to two further ‘unconditional’ British apologies for the behaviour of its security forces in Northern Ireland. In November 2013, a BBC ‘Panorama’ investigation into British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s revealed that members of a special covert operations unit known as the Military Reaction Force (MRF) admitted to the murder of suspects and unarmed Catholic civilians. These admissions by the state or its agents confirm previous claims by critics dating back many decades. Such abuses were not merely low-level tactical excesses by undisciplined and racist troops but were institutional, systematic, and approved or covered up at the highest levels ….”1

The British State has admitted it has secret papers relating to this atrocity but has refused to hand over copies to successive Irish goverments.

THE LARGEST MASS MURDER IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE”

Maureen O’Sullivan, ex-TD (Member of Irish Parliament) for the local area gave the main oration for the Justice for the Forgotten Campaign and called the bombing “the largest mass murder in the history of the State”. She went on to castigate successive governments and most of the political class for their lack of interest in pursuing the planners and perpetrators of the massacre over the years. In her repeated reference to their “ignorance”, O’Sullivan inferred that the legislators’ lack of interest was such that they could not even be bothered to inform themselves of the known facts.

Maureen O’Sullivan castigating the authorities (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

In addition to the Taoiseach, the Ard-Mhaora of Dublin and Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Council spoke and a Catholic priest delivered a short blessing. The event was chaired throughout by a representative of the Justice for the Forgotten campaign group.

Rachael O’Hegarty introduced and recited one of her collection of poems about the victims, this one about Maureen Shields who was 44 years of age when she was killed in Talbot Street.

Rachael O’Hegarty speaking and reciting her poem (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Cormac Breatnach and Eoin Dillon on whistles played Sí Beag, Sí Mór and later Dillon playing the lament known as Táimse I Mo Chodhladh (I Am Asleep), accompanied by Breatnach on whistle, concluded the event.

Cormac Breatnach and Eoin Dillon on whistles (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
Eoin Dillon on uileann pipes and Cormac Breatnach on whistle (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

THE BOMBINGS EXPOSED THE NEO-COLONIAL NATURE OF THE IRISH CAPITALIST CLASS

In summary, a foreign power — which is also occupying by force one-sixth of Ireland — carried out a number of terrorist attacks in the capital city of the Irish State culminating in a massacre intended to cause maximum loss of life and limb – “the largest mass murder in the history of the Irish State”, as Maureen O’Sullivan correctly characterised it.

The Irish ruling elite failed to stop the escalating attacks and turned the investigation of the massacre into a farce. The Irish ruling elite failed to prevent the foreign power subverting the highest rank of its police force (and no doubt other levels in other areas).

Section of the crowd at the commemoration, the Taoiseach, Mícheál Martin speaking (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

The Irish ruling elite failed to take a full range of diplomatic and legal action to condemn the UK, the foreign power over its actions and failure to respond to requests for release of relevant secret papers. The ruling elite continues in that failure today as can be read into the weak speeches of Government Ministers at this ceremony – this time by the Taoiseach and last time the Minister for Justice.

No self-respecting elite or ruling class of any independent state would permit such violations of the security of its capital city and citizens without taking resolute and persistent action. The Irish ruling class is a neo-colonial capitalist class, undeserving even within capitalist terms to be in charge of any Irish state.

The north side of the Memorial (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
The south side of the Memorial (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
The clock on the tower of Connolly (formerly Amiens Street) Station — British soldiers fired a machine gun from that tower at Irish insurgents in 1916. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

FOOTNOTES

SOURCES & USEFUL LINKS

Justice for the Forgotten campaign: http://www.dublinmonaghanbombings.org/home/

Media reports of commemoration:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/dublin-and-monaghan-bombing-failed-in-its-objective-says-taoiseach-1.4880954

https://www.lmfm.ie/news/lmfm-news/event-takes-place-to-commemorate-dublin-and-monaghan-bombings/

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin speech: https://www.gov.ie/en/speech/3b971-speech-by-the-taoiseach-micheal-martin-td-at-the-48th-anniversary-commemoration-service-for-the-victims-and-families-of-the-dublinmonaghan-bombings/

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/taoiseach-criticises-british-government-inaction-on-48th-anniversary-of-dublin-and-monaghan-bombings-41658511.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_and_Monaghan_bombings#Allegations_of_British_Government_involvement

British military collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries: https://www.historyireland.com/frank-kitson-northern-ireland-british-way-counterinsurgency/

Kitson tactics: https://www.kalasnyikov.hu/dokumentumok/frank-kitson-gangs-countergangs.pdf

1https://www.historyireland.com/frank-kitson-northern-ireland-british-way-counterinsurgency/

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