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Justice at last for the forgotten victims of sectarian murder in Dundalk


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The Barron Inquiry Report

The fourth Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing and other loyalist outrages along the Irish border, published 5 July 2006.


Mr Justice Henry Barron, whose private inquiry report into the Dundalk bombing has been published by the Oireachtas committee on justice.The scene of devastation at the Kay's Tavern bar, which left two men dead and many more injured on 19 December 1975.Margaret English (at left) and Maura McKeever, daughters of the two men murdered in the loyalist bombing of Kay's Tavern Crowe Street, Dundalk, in 1975, are seen here after receiving the Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing.

Download: Interim Report (the Barron Report) of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Bombing of Kay's Tavern, Dundalk.

See also our Comments page

This was the day that the Rooney and Watters families of Dundalk and other families of collusion victims, including those of Silverbridge, Castleblayney and other murderous 1970s loyalist attacks in the border area had long been waiting for. 

But, as in the three previous Barron reports, the Barron inquiry did not uncover absolute proof of British state forces collusion in the various attacks. However, it could not be denied that such suspicions remain! It was again a case of garda files missing and minimal - if any - cooperation from the RUC/PSNI and the British authorities in the North! It was also a case of failure to act on a prior warning that such an attack was planned for Dundalk!

Nor are the families 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 McKeever, daughter of victim Jack Rooney..

"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 Barron Report revealed that Garda had received a warning from the RUC four days before the attack on Kay's that "the UVF is planning to carry out car-bomb attacks in the Republic during the next three weeks, one in Dundalk and the other in Dublin".

The information was passed to Garda Divisional HQ in Drogheda who issued the instruction that "cars should be thoroughly checked".

The report took the view that Gardai did all they could given the need to maintain normal commercial life in Dundalk, and while it is always easy to be wise after an event, the question must be asked even now 30 years after the Dundalk bombing that given the intelligence information from the RUC were sufficient Garda resources allocated to ensure that all vehicles entering Dundalk at that time were adequately checked?

It seems doubtful at this remove that such resources were allocated, and equally disturbing that a valuable lesson was not learned when barely six months later another local man Seamus Ludlow was murdered outside Dundalk by another loyalist gang. Coincidentally, Mr Ludlow's murder on 2 May 1976 followed soon after the Garda's receipt of another RUC warning of impending loyalist activity, a warning which contained certain information about 'Mambo' the man now alleged to have been Mr Ludlow's actual killer.

The fourth Barron report on the Dundalk bombing of 19 December 1975, which killed two Dundalk men, Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters, and left several more injured, says the actions of the northern security forces allowed a climate to develop where loyalists believed they could attack Catholics "with impunity".

Members of the RUC and British Army's 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 was the principal conclusion of the Report.

In addition, the RUC may have kept information from gardaí investigating a bombing in order to hide security force collusion in attacks.

The report repeats claims of links between members of the RUC, UDR and the UVF in the gang that perpetrated this and many other sectarian murders in the border area.

Mr Justice Barron said the Dundalk bombing was carried out by loyalists, most probably associated with the mid-Ulster UVF.

These loyalists were using the farm of an RUC reserve member, James Mitchell, as their centre of operations, although Mr Justice Barron said he accepted the bomb did not originate from the farm, located in Glenanne, Co Armagh.

However, he believed the Dundalk and Silverbridge bombings, on 19 December 1975, were coordinated by members of the “Glennane group”, and therefore “members of that group must at least have known in advance of the plan to attack Dundalk”.

The judge said allegations of collusion were “impossible to prove or disprove”. However, he could say that:

The Glenanne group contained members of the RUC and the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), “some of whom probably knew of the plan to attack Dundalk”.

Senior members of the British security forces “allowed a climate to develop in which loyalist subversives could believe that they could attack with impunity”.

The Barron report singled out the farm of RUC reservist James Mitchell as a centre of operations for loyalist paramilitary activity at the height of the Troubles.

Mr Justice Henry Barron first referred to the Mitchell farm at Glenanne near Newtownhamilton in his earlier report on the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

In his final report, the former Supreme Court judge repeated his belief that the farm provided a base for the UVF men who carried out bomb attacks on both sides of the border in the mid-seventies, including the 1975 Dundalk bombing.

Margaret Urwin of the Justice for the Forgotten group expressed her disappointment that while the judge appeared to indicate collusion between loyalists and the British security forces he "fell short" of condemning it.

"He seemed to be hedging his bets. He just won't come down and say outright that there was collusion which is very disappointing." she said.

In the case of the Dundalk attack, the judge referred to 19 suspects but only named seven, including known loyalists James Nelson Young, Joseph Stuart Young and a man known as 'Alexander'. Several other names were blacked out for security reasons.

He also complained that entire albums of suspects' photographs had gone missing without a trace from Garda files.

He revealed that a claim that four RUC members in the Portadown area were UVF members had been passed from the gardai to the Department of Justice and on to the Department of Foreign Affairs - but documents could only be found in the latter department's files.

Mr Justice Barron went on to examine information he had received on a number of weapons that he had identified as used in a number of fatal and non-fatal attacks on both sides of the border.

Ms Urwin expressed fury at how relatives of those killed in a number of loyalist atrocities investigated by Mr Justice Baron had been treated by the Irish government.

She said that they had been given just 24 hours notice that the report was to be published yesterday by a Oireachtas Committee - and had been given the judge's finding just 35 minutes before they were made public.

"These people have been treated appallingly," she said, also voicing her disappointment at the lack of new information on the Miami Showband massacre and the Castleblayney bombing.

Earlier, Margaret English, whose father Hugh Watters died in the Dundalk bombing, claimed victims' families were neglected by the state for three decades.

"I think the bombers were treated better than we were," she said.

"It is absolutely disgusting that citizens of the state were treated in this way."

Margaret added that her family had not received any cooperation from gardai when they held an event at the scene to mark the 30th anniversary of the atrocity in December last year.

To see what victims daughters Maura McKeever and Margaret English, and others, have to say about the publication of the fourth Barron Report go to our Comments page.

Oireachtas hearings on the Barron report commenced on 26 September 2006. See public statement from Justice for the Forgotten and the Pat Finucane Centre of 25 September.

In their statement, they note:

Family members and survivors of these atrocities will tell their own personal stories to the Committee at tomorrow’s session.  On Wednesday, 27th September, Justice for the Forgotten and the Pat Finucane Centre will appear before the Committee and give presentations based on their substantive written submissions already furnished to the Committee.

Justice for the Forgotten and the Pat Finucane Centre believe that it is now possible to make links between four attacks in this State in the two-year period from May 1974 to March 1976, which claimed the lives of 38 people and that it is also possible to make a very much stronger case for the existence of direct collusion in these cases than ever before.

As noted in the above statement, the Barron report also contains references to other incidents that were brought to the attention of the inquiry, including bombs in Castleblayney, Dublin Airport, Silverbridge and the Miami Showband murders.

See the Dundalk Democrat's brief report, in it's issue of 27 September, of the opening of Oireachtas Justice Sub-Committee hearings into the recent Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing and other British/loyalist atrocities during the 1970s. The report features an interview with Margaret English, a daughter of victim Hugh Watters:

Daughter of bomb victim wants justice

See also The Evening Echo online report of 27 September 2006: Justice Dept Rules Out Unsolved Murders Unit. It is reported that the Department of Justice has refused to set up a body like the HET in the North to investigate unsolved crimes from the Troubles.

See also The Irish Times, 28 September 2006: Gardaí Faced 'Brick Wall' In North Inquiry, where it is reported:

Garda efforts to investigate loyalist bombings in the Republic in the 1970s frequently hit a "brick wall" once their inquiries led them north of the Border, an Oireachtas sub-committee heard yesterday. . .

To read the complete report use this link>>>


I Top I  I Comments on the Barron Report I

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, 5 July 2006: "Relatives 'furious' over Barron report blunder

Daily Ireland, 5 July 2006: Report expected today on Dundalk bombing

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 Dundalk Democrat, 12 July 2006: Gardai expected bomb at Imperial

The Dundalk Democrat, 12 July 2006: Barron Report is a step closer to the truth

The Dundalk Democrat, 12 July 2006: Families will continue their campaign for justice

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

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006: My father and family have been let down by the government

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006: Authorities reluctance to admit mistakes cost families heartache

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006:Joint Committee likely to hold series of hearings in autumn

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006: Sharp differences over fingermarks evidence

The Argus (Dundalk), 12 July 2006:Questions that still need answers

Daily Ireland, 13 July 2006: Justice Group seeks advice

I Top I  

Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 26 December 2007 10:19:19

 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)

Download the International Report on Collusion

Download the Oireachtas Report on the Dundalk bombing and other collusion attacks

Copyright © 2007 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. 

All rights reserved. Revised: December 26, 2007 .