A minister in the coalition government of 30 years ago today broke ranks with former senior colleagues, backing a critical report by a senior judge on the official handling of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974.
The Barron report, issued after an investigation into the background of the bombings by High Court judge Mr Justice Henry Barron, directed criticism at then-Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and his government.
The then-Government was criticised for failing to pass on information received from British Prime Minister Harold Wilson about the suspected involvement in the bombings of the UVF loyalist para-military group.
Three members of the Cosgrave government, Dr Garret FitzGerald – who later became Taoiseach in Dublin – Patrick Cooney and Conor Cruise O’Brien have subsequently disputed the Barron findings.
But today ex-Labour Minister Justin Keating said he accepted and admired the contents of the report.
Mr Keating also supported a demand from families of victims of the bombings for a judicial inquiry into the incidents.
He said he believed the report was accurate, and added: “I don’t believe we showed the diligence in pursuing it that we should have done.
“And I think that there were political reasons which seemed good to the government of the time, but which did not, and don’t seem, good to me.”
Justice for the Forgotten, a group representing victims’ families, said they “very much welcomed” Mr Keating’s comments – particularly his backing for an inquiry.
A spokesman said that “a form of judicial inquiry” with full powers to compel both witnesses and documents was the “minimum” to which the families were entitled.
He maintained there was “an overwhelming case” for the families to know what had gone on and, as the the main players in 1974 were still around, they should “give evidence to such an inquiry and be tested on it“.