Dublin/Monaghan bombings, Friday 17 May 1974

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 4 (Jul/Aug 2007), Letters, Volume 15

Sir,

—With reference to Gordon Gillespie’s article ‘Sunningdale and the 1974 Ulster Workers’ Council strike’ (HI 15.3, May/June 2007), we in Justice for the Forgotten were extremely disappointed that an incorrect date was given for the bombing of Dublin and Monaghan, an error that was replicated in your editorial. The no-warning car bombings in Dublin and Monaghan occurred on Friday 17 May (not Saturday 18 May) 1974, an atrocity that caused the greatest loss of life in a single day of the entire Northern conflict—34, including an unborn baby.
Gillespie states that the bombings were ‘later claimed by the UVF’—nineteen years later, in fact. The Ulster Volunteer Force issued a statement on 15 July 1993 for the sole purpose of refuting the findings of collusion by the producers of the Yorkshire Television programme Hidden Hand: the forgotten massacre, which had been broadcast the previous week. The UVF statement claimed that they acted alone, without the assistance or direction of the British security forces. A number of military experts have disputed the capability of loyalist paramilitaries to carry out such an operation, however. One such expert, Lt. Col. Nigel Wylde (British Army retired), an ammunition technical officer (ATO) who commanded no. 1 section of 321 Ordnance Disposal Unit in Belfast from June to October 1974, was commissioned by Justice for the Forgotten in 2001 to examine their capability. He states in his report: ‘Loyalist bombs were simple and unsophisticated and reflected their lack of technical expertise’. In relation to the Dublin bombing operation he asserts: ‘Loyalist terror groups did not have the skills to plan and undertake this operation in 1974’.
Gillespie contends that the atrocity had little impact on events in Northern Ireland at the time, that is, during the Ulster Workers’ Council strike. While that is undoubtedly true, it had a major effect in this jurisdiction and resulted in the Irish government maintaining a very low profile on Northern affairs for several years afterwards.
We share the view of your editorial in the same issue that the MacEntee report was frustratingly inconclusive as to why the Garda investigation was prematurely wound down. We in Justice for the Forgotten have a particular view on this and will continue our own research, which has assisted the MacEntee investigation as well as the four Barron Inquiries. Our research is conducted not simply for historical reasons, but more importantly to inform the bereaved families and survivors who have been denied the truth for 33 years.

—Yours etc.,
MARGARET URWIN (sec.)
Justice for the Forgotten
Dublin 1

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