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The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006:

Barron Report on Dundalk bombing

Members of RUC and UDR probably knew about plan to bomb Dundalk

Members of the RUC and UDR probably knew of the plan to attack Dundalk on December 19,1975 even  though they may not have taken part themselves in planting the car bomb outside Kay's Tavern in Crowe Street which killed two men and injured many more.

That is (the) principal conclusion of the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the bombing which was published on Wednesday last by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights of the fourth and final report by Judge Henry Barron.

The conclusions of the Inquiry are:

The bombing of Kay's Tavern was carried out by loyalist extremists, most probably associated with the Mid-Ulster UVF. Some assistance must have been obtained from Belfast loyalists regarding the theft of the bomb car a red Mark II Cortina stolen from a street in Belfast at 9.15 on the morning of December 19th and fitted with false number plates which bore the number allocated to a Bedford bus owned by a man in Tullamore. The plates were not made in the Republic.

It is likely that the attack was carried out on the initiative of a group largely consisting of UVF members, possibly without the sanction of the UVF leadership.

On the same night as the Dundalk bombing, a bomb and gun attack took place at Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge in Armagh in which three people were killed. While the Inquiry was not given access to the RUC investigation file they had no reason to dispute the conclusion of the Gardai investigating the Dundalk bombing that the two attacks were linked.

In the light of information available to it and in consideration of John Weir's background and character, the Inquiry accepts Weir's claim that the Dundalk bomb did not come from James Mitchell's farm in Glenanne. However, the Inquiry believes that the attacks on Dundalk and Silverbridge were co-ordinated; that those who carried out the Silverbridge attack came from the 'Glenanne group' and therefore that the members of that group must at least have known in advance of the plan to attack Dundalk. Given that the information available to the Inquiry suggests the involvement of some members of the security forces in the Silverbridge attack, this implies that the security forces may or should have known who was responsible for the Dundalk bombing.

The facts and circumstances of the bombing lead automatically to the suspicion that certain Loyalist subversives from Mid-Ulster were involved. However, the best efforts of the Gardai and the Inquiry have not obtained the quality of information to arrive at a conclusion that those individuals were involved, even as a matter of probability. Taking into account also the intelligence relating to the farm of James Mitchell at Glenanne was not included in the intelligence provided to the Gardai in January 1976 by the RUC, a suspicion remains that contemporary actions were designed to limit information relating to security forces collusion in terrorist activity from reaching the public domain, which in turn did nothing to counteract such activity.

Without proof as to who was involved in the bombing, allegations of collusion are impossible to prove or disprove. What can be said is the following: (a) The group of Loyalist extremists based around Mitchell's farm at Glenanne contained members of the RUC and UDR, some of whom probably knew of the plan to attack Dundalk, even if they took no part themselves; (b) The security forces in NI knew that Mitchell's farm was the centre for illegal activities as early as January, 1976 and probably for some time before that. Yet, these activities were allowed to continue unhindered until the arrest of William McCaughey and others in December,1978; (c) The Inquiry believes that by their attitudes towards Loyalist violence and towards violent members of their own forces, some senior members allowed a climate to develop in which Loyalist subversives could believe that they could attack with impunity. However, there is no evidence that senior members of the security forces were in any way involved in the bombing; (d) Some of those suspects of the bombings - notably Robin Jackson and the Young brothers - were reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and / or RUC Special Branch officers. It is reasonable to assume that exchanges of information took place. It is therefore possible that the assistance provided to the Garda investigation team by the security forces in the North was affected by a reluctance to compromise those relationships in the interests of securing further information in the future. But any such conclusion would require very cogent evidence. No such evidence is in the possession of the Inquiry. There remains a deep suspicion that the investigation into the bombing was hampered by such factors, but it cannot be put further than that.

The forensic evidence is inconclusive, but the nature of the explosives used does suggest a possible link between the perpetrators of the Dublin, Monaghan, Dundalk and Castleblayney bombings.

The security forces in NI did receive advance warning of an impending attack in Dundalk and this warning was conveyed to the Gardai. The Inquiry was not able to establish whether the apparent sighting of the bomb convoy leaving Portadown on the day of the bombing was known to the Northern Ireland authorities before the attack itself took place. In the circumstances, it is not possible to say whether those authorities knew enough to have prevented the attack taking place.

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Download the Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing from the Oireachtas website.

This document is in Adobe PDF format and can be downloaded from the link below.

Interim Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Bombing of Kay's Tavern, Dundalk.

Houses of the Oireachtas, Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights.

Download the free reader software for Adobe PDF format

See the Irish News: "Relatives 'furious' over Barron report blunder

See also The Irish News online breaking news, 5 July 2006: Pub bombers 'treated better than victims' families'

See also: Oireachtas press release of 5 July 2006.

Daily Ireland, 6 July 2006: Blast victim’s relative hits out

The Irish Examiner, 6 July 2006: Loyalists had licence to kill Catholics, finds inquiry

The Irish Independent, 6 July 2006: Bombers 'treated better than victims'

The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Relatives want 1975 bombing inquiry

The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Horror lives on for bar owner

The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Report points to RUC reservist's farm as base for UVF operations

The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Hope that collusion theories may be brought to surface

The Irish Times, 6 July 2006: 1970s bombing victims complain of official neglect

LMFM Radio online news report, 6 July 2006: Hearings into report on Dundalk bombing to begin in September

TOM News, 6 July 2006: Latest Barron Report Highlights Need for Ahern-Blair Summit on Collusion

Daily Ireland, 7 July 2006: Taoiseach urged to call summit

Daily Ireland, 7 July 2006: Barron inquiry typically leaves more questions than answers Conclusion of report into collusion allegations between loyalists and the British government is 'unsatisfactory'

Daily Ireland, 7 July 2006: Families to discuss Barron report

Daily Ireland, 7 July 2006: Garda probe questions raised

The Irish News of the World, 9 July 2006: Showband massacre: shocking new report Former cop behind plot

The Newry Democrat, 11 July 2006: Collusion summit call

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006: Inquiry lists 19 suspects

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006:

Daily Ireland, 13 July 2006: Justice Group seeks advice

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Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 17 July 2006 18:53:20

 Visit the Ludlow family's websiteVisit Justice for the Forgotten  Statement by John Oliver Weir

Download the Barron Inquiry Report into the 17 May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, (pdf file)

Barron Report: on the Dublin Bombings of 1972 and 1973, can also be downloaded in pdf form

Download the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

Copyright © 2006 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. 

All rights reserved. Revised: July 17, 2006 .