Barron Report on 1972–3 bombings: error and omission

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Judge Henry Barron reported on the 1972–3 Dublin bombings in November 2004, after investigating the 1974 Dublin–Monaghan bombings. Barron relied on incomplete Garda files and testimony, as the British state refused to assist.

Two individuals transported the first, 26 November 1972, bomb to the blast point. Car bombs were used afterwards. Barron suggested that republicans had planted this bomb. It exploded at 1.25am outside the Film Centre cinema in Dublin city centre and injured 40 people. The Official and Provisional IRAs immediately condemned it as the work of agents provocateurs.

Barron suggested a direct link to a foiled attempt to free IRA leader Seán Mac Stiofáin, though the bomb went off eighteen hours earlier. Unfortunately, Barron conflated the two events when he wrote, mistakenly, that the bomb went off on ‘the … night [of] 26 November’ and that the rescue attempt occurred ‘later that night’. Seven pages later, in a separate section, Barron correctly timed the explosion. Barron’s speculative ‘more likely than not’ finding is therefore questionable.

In 2000, retired Garda ballistics officer Éamonn Ó Fíacháin gave evidence to the Hamilton Inquiry into the 1974 Dublin–Monaghan bombings (later taken over by Barron). After the December 1972 bombs, Patrick Crinnion told Ó Fíacháin that ‘the Brits’ were responsible. Crinnion’s source was his brother-in-law, a British Army officer. In March 1974 Sunday Independent journalist Joe McAnthony identified him as Captain Séamus (Jimmy) Lattimore of the Royal Irish Rangers, stationed in Waring Street, Belfast, in 1972. He also served in the Ulster Defence Regiment. The newspaper claimed that Lattimore had operated in plain clothes—in other words, in an intelligence capacity. Lattimore, who was promoted from sergeant-major and retired as a major, was awarded an MBE in 1971.

Barron’s report on the 1972–3 bombings treated Ó Fíacháin as a reliable witness on ballistics but ignored his Crinnion affidavit. It also ignored Forsey. As Barron remarked on missing Garda files, it would be of interest to know whether Forsey’s exists.

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