bombs that killed 33 people in Dublin and Monaghan may have
come from the British Army, according to an official inquiry
into the atrocities.
The inquiry has been given evidence that army members
supplied loyalist terrorists with explosives that had been
confiscated by the army from the IRA and that these were used
in the three bombs which exploded in Dublin during rush-hour
The findings of the inquiry into the bombings, on May 17,
1974, are being written up by Mr Justice Henry Barron, a
retired Irish judge. He has been forced to delay his inquiry
repeatedly because British authorities have been slow to give
him vital information. The report, due to be completed in
April, will fuel persistent allegations that the bombings were
engineered by undercover agents working inside loyalist
paramilitary groups. A British Army bomb disposal expert has
concluded that the three car bombs in Dublin used crystallised
ammonium nitrate. The home bomb making technology was known to
the IRA at the time but was not mastered by loyalists for at
least another six years.
Originally, both loyalist and republican terrorists made
most of their bombs from ammonium nitrate fertiliser mixed
with fuel oil, but in 1973 restrictions introduced on the
nitrate content of fertiliser made this simple process
IRA members quickly developed a crystallisation technique
that allowed them to extract nitrates from the new fertiliser,
a method loyalists did not learn until the end of the 1970s.
The expert's 100-page report submitted to the inquiry
"Loyalist terrorist groups did not have the skills to
undertake this operation in 1974. Further, I do not believe
they have ever possessed them, otherwise a similarly complex
operation would have been repeated."
It goes on: "The loyalist terrorists who undertook
this operation were at least guided, and very likely directed,
by somebody with considerable knowledge of terrorist bombing
activities. The most likely sort of person who could have
provided that guidance is an ammunition technical officer or
ammunition technician with experience of intelligence
processes and practices and with access to loyalist
The bomb disposal expert's report estimates that only five
people, all of them British soldiers, combined this level of
access to seized IRA explosives and to loyalist terror groups.
It describes another bomb in Monaghan, near the border with
Northern Ireland, which detonated 90 minutes after the Dublin
blasts and killed eight people, as of standard loyalist
It did not use IRA explosives and is believed to have been
built by a different loyalist unit.
The bomb disposal expert's report was commissioned
by Justice for the Forgotten, an Irish government-funded group
for the victims of the atrocities, at Barron's request in
2001. However, it is understood further reports have been
commissioned from the same expert into other explosions in the
republic. These found two other loyalist bombs were probably
composed of explosives seized from the IRA.
One of these was detonated at Kay's Tavern in Dundalk, a
bar which was at the time used by republicans, on December 19,
1975 and claimed two lives. The second exploded on the same
day outside a bar in Silverbridge, Co Armagh, and killed three
Last month Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, told the Dail that
he had raised the alleged non-cooperation of British
authorities with Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland secretary,
who assured him that "further material would be
Ahern added: "The prime minister is fully aware that
we want to see the maximum co-operation from the British
authorities and the matter has been raised through the
British-Irish secretariat and at the recent meeting of the
British-Irish intergovernmental conference."