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IN the High Court dismissal of a claim by survivors of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that the handling of a report compiled by the commission of investigation amounted to a breach of the state’s human rights obligations (Irish Examiner, September 10), Ms Justice Mary Laffoy ruled the plaintiffs did not have a legally enforceable right of access to the commission archive, in addition to a prohibition on disclosure until 30 years after the dissolution of the commission.
I pass no judgment on the legal issues raised in the case as I am not competent to do so, but my ignorance of the law will not preclude me from commenting on the moral obligations of both state and society to the victims of the biggest mass murder in Irish history.
The recent controversial withdrawal of funding to Justice for the Forgotten, the group which campaigns on behalf of the families of those killed and injured in the bombings, runs counter to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement which states it is essential to acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims of violence as a necessary element of reconciliation. Those bereaved must still be wondering why they have been treated so shabbily over the years. Just months after the Dublin and Monaghan atrocity, the garda investigation was effectively wound down, garda files relating to the bombing went missing and Mr Justice Henry Barron in his report said “the government of the day did not show much concern for those killed and injured in Dublin and Monaghan”.
Former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, who was in office during this period in 1974, was invited by the sub-committee on the Barron report to defend his government’s actions in regard to the bombings, but he declined. No one was ever charged, arrested or questioned in relation to these bombings.
Ironically, it was a Yorkshire Television programme, First Tuesday, screened in July 1993, that provided names and interviews with some of those responsible for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. This was to lead eventually to the Hamilton and Barron reports and the McEntee commission of investigation. That we are in the grip of an unprecedented recession and are teetering on the brink of financial bankruptcy is a fact, but are we so morally bankrupt that we would heap further callous disregard, suffering and insult onto those who have endured so much?
Despite claims by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern that the Government no longer had the resources to fund Justice for the Forgotten, Eamon O Cuiv, when minister at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, awarded in excess of €250,000 to promote and organise Orange Order institutions in the Republic.
If the Irish state can fund the sectarian Orange order, why can it not fund, to some degree, innocent Irish victims of international terrorism? As long as the vile actions of those who wrought murder and carnage on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 are remembered, so too will the inaction of those whose duty it was to do all in their power to provide support and practical assistance to those bereaved and to bring to justice those responsible.
To this end successive governments have shamefully abdicated their responsibilities.
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