Diplomat accuses British of collusion
A former senior Irish diplomat, Sean Donlon, has told a
parliamentary sub-committee in Dublin that be believed there
was British security force collusion in the 1974 bombings of
Dublin and Monaghan.
"The British army has always had units and elements in it that
engaged in dirty operations," he said on Wednesday.
Twenty-six died in a series of bombings in Dublin city and
amother seven died in another attack in Monaghan town on the
one night in May 1974, all of which were claimed by the
unionist paramilitary UVF.
Mr Donlon said that people at a senior level in the British
justice system during the 1970s were aware of collusion going
on, and yet did nothing to stop it.
He pointed out that if the British security forces, even rogue
elements, had colluded with those who planted the 1974 bombs,
the Republic's sovereignty would have been breached by the
"It's tantamount to declaring war. Governments should be able
to control rogue elements. For the sake of our national
interest this should be investigated."
Mr Donlon worked on the Northern Ireland desk at the
Department of Foreign Affairs from 1971 to 1978. He told
members of the justice sub-committee he was appearing before
them after responding to a newspaper advertisement seeking any
relevant parties to come forward.
Mr Donlon worked for the Department for 28 years until 1987.
From 1974 to 1978 he was in charge of the Northern Ireland
desk, a role which involved collating information on security
issues in the North, particularly on collusion.
Despite this, High Court judge Mr Justice Henry Barron never
invited him for an interview in the preparation of his report,
which led to the parliamentary proceedings at which he
While getting the truth about the bombings would prove
difficult during any public inquiry, Mr Donlon said, it would
not be impossible. On the possibility that an Anglo-Irish
cross-jurisdictional inquiry could be set up, he said: "I
would not give up hope."
Mr Donlon said inquiries into matters of public concern often
worked best when headed by an international neutral figure. If
the British and Irish governments could agree terms for a
cross-jurisdictional inquiry into the events of 1974, and if
it were headed by a neutral figure, it might be very
The chair of the inquiry might be given access to British
files denied to Mr Justice Barron, he said. Conclusions could
be arrived at based on information in the files, without their
content being put in the public domain.
He had believed the Barron report would focus on collusion and
that the actions or inaction of the gardai and government of
the day would prove secondary. But the opposite was the case.
However, part of the reason Mr Justice Barron had not reached
stronger conclusions on collusion, and other issues, was
because he had been denied access to 68,000 files held by the
Meanwhile, two former Irish government minister have
criticised a new report on bomb attacks by loyalist terrorists
on the southern side of the border one night 30 years ago.
Patrick Cooney, who was justice minister at the time, said
some of the findings of an investigation headed by Justice
Barron were "not worth the paper they were written on".
Mr Cooney's remarks followed the rejection by former taoiseach
Dr Garret FitzGerald of the findings of the inquiry into the
Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974. Dr FitzGerald -
foreign minister when the bombs went off - rejected the
report's criticism of the government at the time.