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The late Hugh Watters, victim of the Dundalk bombing of 19 December 1975.Margaret English, daughter of victim Hugh Watters, standing behind Maura McKeever, daughter of Jack Rooney, after they received copies of the Barron Report.The scene of devastation at Crowe Street, Dundalk, after the bombing of Kay's Tavern, 19 December 1975.

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006:

Authorities reluctance to admit mistakes cost families heartache

Kevin Mulligan

If the authorities had admitted early on that mistakes were made in the investigation of the Dundalk bombing it would have saved the families a great deal of heartache and the taxpayer a pile of money.

That is the belief of Margaret English, daughter of 60-year-old Hugh Watters who was enjoying his routine after work drink in Kay's Tavern on the night of December, 19th, 1975 when the bomb exploded outside the Crowe Street premises.

Margaret, the only member of her family still living in Dundalk, was responding to the revelation in the report by Mr Justice Barron presented to the Joint Committee for Justice  last week that Gardai had a warning from the RUC four days before the bombing that the UVF had targeted both Dundalk and Dublin.

"My sister was reading this from the Inquiry report on the internet in England where she now lives and she made the point that there were thousands of people walking around Dundalk at that time totally unaware that this warning had been given when townspeople could have taken precautions and acted as lookouts for any suspicious vehicles" said Margaret.

After reading the report she was convinced that mistakes were made before and after the bombing and said "if people had put their hands up at that time and admitted that mistakes were made we would not have suffered as we did and we could have had closure to the incident. Also there would have been no need for the expensive inquiries that are still costing the taxpayer a great deal of money".

Margaret adds "all people had to do was be truthful with us, but we never got answers to our questions. No one from the Gardai or any other State agency ever came near us. We were left to suffer alone".

That indifference from the State continued last week when the report was presented to the Joint Committee as Margaret revealed "we were given half an hour to read the report before we were taken into a press conference and asked questions, no wonder I reacted angrily at the time".

Margaret, nor her brother, Gerard, and sisters, Ruth and Mary, will ever forgive the State for the treatment that her mother, Margaret received. She died in 1990, fifteen years after the death of her husband who was a tailor with premises in Francis Street. "My father was self employed and was our only source of income at the time. He handed his earnings at the end of each day to my mother, but after his death she was left with no husband and no income" Margaret recalled.

In order to survive Mrs Watters applied for a non-contributory pension as her husband, being self employed, had no stamps. "She was tortured by social welfare officials after my father's death and I remember coming home and finding her crying and would know immediately that they had visited her. All this was unbelievably hard for my mother after losing my father in a bombing and my only regret is that we didn't speak out against this kind of treatment at the time but we knew no better and were told to stay silent" said Margaret who added that if she was able she would write a book on the subject.

She has no doubt that there was collusion between the Governments north and south to prevent the truth from emerging for she says "when I was first told this in 1998 I couldn't believe it, but after reading the Inquiry report and because of a number of a number of incidents in relation to the commemoration ceremonies that I experienced I am now convinced that our Government wants the Dundalk bombing swept under the carpet".

The incidents to which she refers are the 25th anniversary of the bombing when Gardai would not allow Crowe Street to be closed to traffic for ten minutes in order to allow ceremonies to proceed and the wording on the plaque outside of the Town Hall. "The authorities wanted the wording 'in memory of Hugh Watters and Jack Rooney killed near this place'. We wouldn't agree and insisted on the wording 'Hugh Watters and Jack Rooney murdered in the Dundalk bombing' and we had to fight for this wording".

Margaret concluded: "I told the authorities at the time that we got no truth about the bombing, but at least we were going to have the truth on the plaque".

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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

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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

Daily Ireland, 13 July 2006: Justice Group seeks advice

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Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 22 July 2006 10:51:03

 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 22, 2006 .