Justice at last for the forgotten victims of sectarian murder in Dundalk
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The Argus, 12 July 2006:
My father and family have been let down by the government
The publication of the Interim report on the Dundalk bombing in 1975 has only added to the anguish and sense of anger felt by the family of 61-year-old Jack Rooney who was caught in the explosion as he walked past Kay's Tavern and died three days later from his injuries.
"My father and my entire family have been let down by our Government, for they did little for us despite promises made at the time of the bombing, and there is no doubt in my mind that the bombing was never properly investigated because there was collusion between north and south to prevent the truth emerging," said Maura McKeever the only daughter of Jack Rooney who lives in Dundalk.
Maura is not that surprised by the findings of the Inquiry or that the suspects involved were named for she said "since I got involved with the official investigation into the bombing over the last few years I have started to find out more and more and I am convinced that the security forces in the North, possibly including the British, had knowledge of the bombing before it occurred".
She is also convinced that the full truth did not emerge at the time of the bombing because the authorities feared that it would expose people who possibly carried out the bombing but who worked for the security forces in the North.
Maura, a mother of three, would like to see those responsible for her father's death brought to justice even at this stage but, she is convinced "that the people who carried out the bombing were only taking orders from others".
Her conviction that there was collusion between north and south stems from her belief that there was a major cover-up agreed after the bombing. "It was all politically motivated for they just didn't want us to know anything, and we could get no information from anyone. We were never visited by the Gardai after the bombing or indeed in the 30 years since" she revealed.
Indeed while the Inquiry mentions forensic examination of Mr Rooney's clothing his daughter revealed that her brother, Liam (who now lives in Wales) collected their father's clothing from the hospital and burned them not out of any desire to destroy any possible evidence but because her mother kept asking to see her father's clothes and they did not want to show her the blood stained clothing.
Nor are the family convinced that the Gardai gave sufficient regard to the bomb warning they received from the RUC four days before the bombing. "I feel that they should have mounted road checks on all vehicles entering Dundalk and paid more attention to vehicles parked outside public buildings like the Courthouse and the Town Hall as they had been warned that a public building could be the target" said Maura.
"I feel that the Gardai could have done more to prevent the bombing and that their investigation of the bomb site to collect evidence left a lot to be desired.", added Maura.
The family originally believed that her father was walking past the Town Hall when the bomb exploded but have pieced together from the Inquiry that it was more likely he was walking past Kay's Tavern. "He probably walked someone across the road to the Blackrock bus from the Condil where he was with friends and continued on towards the Market Square".
He was still conscious when taken to the Louth and even told his first visitor, Maura's husband "I've done it this time". At first the family felt that Mr Rooney would survive his injuries, but he had to undergo a major operation to try and stop internal bleeding caused by a piece of shrapnel from the bomb.
"We asked if he could be moved to Belfast as the hospitals there were more experienced in dealing with bomb injuries and if we had the money we would have moved him ourselves, but our request met with no response" said Maura.
That refusal was indicative of the approach taken by the authorities to the family's plight and even on Wednesday last when Mr Justice Barron's report on the Dundalk bombing was presented to the Joint Committee on Justice in Dublin, Jack Rooney's widow, Mary (Masie) now 89 years, could not attend because of age and incapacity while no offer of transport was made by the State.
"This is typical of the manner in which we have been treated since my father's death, for my mother wanted to attend last week's hearing but it was not possible for her to use public transport and because of the difficulty of parking in the vicinity of the Dail we could not take her by car" said her daughter who added "I am sure that if it was one of the members of the Commission a car would have been provided".
The Rooney family felt that the Government's offer to meet all expenses of the families after the bombing would at least remove that burden from their shoulders but they were in for a surprise as they had to meet a hospital bill for their father's time in the Louth, plus the funeral expenses. "Like most people of her generation my mother hated to have a bill so we had no alternative but to pay the bills" said Maura who added that they even to fight for their father's entitlements for he worked for the Urban Council at the time of his death.
"When I think back it was dreadful that we had to go cap in hand to get his holiday pay. My father had served the State well for he was in the Army during the Emergency and later as a fireman in Dundalk for many years yet we were treated in this shameful fashion. We kept much of this away from my mother for we just couldn't bring ourselves to talk about it. Perhaps we kept silent for too long, for nobody knows what this bombing did to my family and how it changed my mother's life".
It is Maura's intention to give evidence to the sub-committee that has now been established to consider Mr Justice Barron's report and she intends to tell them how badly her family has been treated by the State.
Download the Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing from the Oireachtas website.
See the Irish News, 5 July 2006: "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: Members of RUC and UDR probably knew about plan to bomb Dundalk
The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006:Guide to names listed by inquiry
Daily Ireland, 13 July 2006: Justice Group seeks advice
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Last edited: 18 July 2006 18:05:16
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All rights reserved. Revised: July 18, 2006 .