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The Barron Inquiry

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


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This statement from the Department of the Taoiseach, Photograph: The late Mr. Hugh Watters, a self-employed tailor, aged 60, who was murdered by the loyalist bombing of Dundalk, 19 December 1975.Dublin, outlines the work to be carried out by Mr Justice Liam Hamilton in his private inquiry into the murderous bombings outrages in Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk. Following his tragic death, before his inquiries had been completed, Mr Justice Hamilton was succeeded by retired Supreme Court Judge, Mr Justice Henry Barron.

Photograph: The late Jack Rooney, victim of the Dundalk bombing, 19 December 1975, a council wrker, aged 60 years at the time of his murder .Mr Justice Barron completed his inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 2003, and he is presently continuing his private inquiries in the Dundalk bombing and the murder of Seamus Ludlow. These inquiries should be completed before the end of 2004.


Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk Bombings


Statement by the Taoiseach on the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk Bombings, The Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, T.D., announced on Sunday, 19th December, 1999, that the outgoing Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton was being invited to undertake a through examination, involving fact finding and assessment of all aspects of the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings and their sequel, including the facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators of the bombings; the nature, adequacy and extent of the Garda investigations, including the adequacy of cooperation with and from the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland and the adequacy of the handling of scientific analyses of forensic evidence; and the reasons why no prosecutions took place, including whether and if so, by whom and to what extent the investigations were impeded. [These are not formal terms of reference which remain to be defined precisely following consultations, including with the Chief Justice and relevant groups of relatives.] The Government intend and will insure that the Chief Justice will have full access to all relevant files and papers of Government Departments and the Garda Siochana. The Government will also direct that all members of the Public Service and the Garda Siochana extend their full co-operation to him. Furthermore, the Taoiseach intends that the Government will seek the co-operation of the British authorities with the Chief Justices examination. The results of the Chief Justices examination will be presented to the Government, to be followed by an examination of the report in public session by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Womens Rights of a sub-committee of that Committee. (Because of the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature, it is not possible for the Government to direct the Oireachtas or a Committee of it to take a particular action. However, the Government would do everything in its power to ensure that the Committee took this action and, as there is cross-party support for this approach, the Government are confident that matters would unfold along the lines envisaged.) It is also envisaged by the Government that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Womens Rights would direct that the report prepared by the Chief Justice be submitted to the Committee, in order for it to advise the Oireachtas as to what further action, if any, would be necessary to establish the truth of what happened. The Committees of the House of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act, 1997 enables the Oireachtas to confer power on an Oireachtas Committee to send for persons, papers and records and it is envisaged that these powers would be invoked, including at the stage where the Committee, in public session, considered the follow-up to be given to the report of the Chief Justice. The Government envisage that this consideration will involve hearings at which the Justice for the Forgotten Group, representing the injured and bereaved, would have the right to appear before, and be heard by, the Committee; the Committee would exercise powers to direct that material relevant to the findings of the report be placed before it; and it would also exercise powers to call persons to appear before it to respond publicly to the report.
As the Government see the matter, there would be three approaches open to the Committee: (i) advise the report achieved as far as possible the objective of finding out the truth and that no further action would be required or fruitful; (ii) advise that the report did not achieve the objective which could only be done through a public inquiry; or (iii) advise that the report did not achieve the objective and the Committee or a sub-committee of the Committee should examine the matter further (as outlined previously, the options available to such committees of sub-committees include public hearings and powers to send for persons, papers and records). It is envisaged that suitable practical arrangements will be made with the Chief Justice in regard to the conduct of his inquiry, on matters such as the secretariat and support for research and for writing up his report and that he and his team would have a separate office in a location to be agreed with him. The Government believe that this approach represents a genuine attempt to respond to the legitimate needs and concerns of those injured or bereaved as a result of these appalling outrages and to move towards closure for people who have suffered for too long. The procedure is, n many ways, analogues to that followed by the Public Accounts Committee of Dáil Eireann leading to the recently published report on DIRT, where the examination by the Committee took as its basis the report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General, which the PAC directed be submitted to it. It has been widely accepted that the approach adopted in the DIRT case was very effective.

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Terms of reference: Dundalk bombing

To undertake a thorough examination, involving fact finding and assessment, of all aspects of the Dundalk bombing and its sequel.

A more detailed Terms of Reference is also available:

The terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry into the Dundalk bombing are to undertake a thorough examination, involving fact finding and assessment, of all aspects of the Dundalk bombing and its sequel, including the facts and circumstances of, and the background to, the bombing, having regard to the Garda investigation of the bombing, including the co-operation with and from the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland. The Dundalk bombing refers to the bomb explosion that took place in Dundalk on 19 December, 1975


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See also: 

Magill Magazine, September 2002: The Truth Trickles Out   Mystery has always surrounded the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings. An independent inquiry has been set up to look at the events surrounding the attacks, and the bombing of Dundalk the following year. Donall O Maolfabhail reports on its likely findings.

The Sunday Times, January 12, 2003: Army 'link' to Dublin bombings 

MATERIAL for 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 traffic. . .

Use this link to read the full story that may link the Dundalk and other bombs to the British Army. >>> 

The Irish Examiner online, 27 February 2003: Group calls for new Dublin-Monaghan bombings inquiry

There has been another call for a public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan car bombings in 1974, and the explosion in Dundalk in December 1975.

The Justice for the Forgotten group says it is furious with the British government over its failure to properly co-operate with the Barron Inquiry, which is investigating the bombings.

Use this link to read the full story. >>>

BBC News online report, 28 February 2003: Troubles victims fund set up

A £2m fund for relatives of victims of the Troubles has been set up by the Irish Government.

The money will be allocated to people in the Irish Republic.

The fund is one of the Irish Government's obligations under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. 

Among those expected to benefit are relatives of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the Dundalk bombing in 1975. . .

Use this link to read the full story. >>>

Dundalk Democrat, 28 June 2003: Dundalk families concerned over Barron report delay

The Taoiseach admitted this week that nearly €4000,000 has been spent on the commission into the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings, but the report has not been completed.

This has angered the Dundalk families. Maura McKeever, whose father, Jack Rooney died along with Hugh Watters in  the bombing at Kay's Tavern on 19th December 1975, is concerned over the delay.

Use this link to read the full story. >>>

Dundalk Democrat, 8 November 2003: Dundalk bombing and Ludlow murder ignored

The families of Seamus Ludlow and the two men murdered in the Dundalk bombing have said they are disappointed that the draft Barron report failed to mention the County Louth atrocities.

The Barron Inquiry, which was commissioned by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 1999, investigated the circumstances surrounding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, as well as the 1975 Dundalk bombing and the murder of Mountpleasant man, Seamus Ludlow.

But the draft report only referred to the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, in which 33 people died. The Taoiseach said he hoped a report into other cases under Justice Barron’s remit would be completed by the New Year.

Margaret Watters, whose father Hugh, was one of two men killed when a car bomb exploded in Crowe Street on December 19 1975, said she was “saddened” by the way the families found out about the case’s exclusion from the report.

Use this link to read the full story. >>>

The Dundalk Democrat, 20 December 2003: Bombing families fear truth will never be known

By Anne Campbell

The families of the two men killed in the Dundalk bombing of 1975 now fear the truth behind the murders may never be known.

Maura McKeever, whose father, Jack Rooney, died with tailor, Hugh Watters, in the car bomb attack in Crowe Street, was speaking following the publication of the Barron Report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Two months before Justice Barron published the report into the 1974 bombings in which 34 people died, the Dundalk bereaved families and the relatives of murdered forestry worker, Seamus Ludlow, were informed that the part of the report relating to them would not be made public before the New Year.

Use this link to read the full story. >>>

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Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 01 May 2004 21:23:42

 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)

Copyright © 2004 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. All rights reserved. Revised: May 01, 2004 .