Justice at last for the forgotten victims of sectarian murder in Dundalk
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The Dundalk Democrat, 19 December 2007
Exactly 32 years ago a car bomb ripped through the centre of Dundalk and not only left two grieving families but also changed the history of the town. In recent years a plaque in memory of the two dead men Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters has been placed on the Town Hall building, across the road from where the car bomb exploded demolishing Kay's Tavern. On the 30th anniversary of the Dundalk bombing a Mass was celebrated in the Town Hall building. This year the anniversary will be commemorated by the unveiling of a sculpture on Crowe Street. As the Rooney and Watters families gather together on yet another anniversary, they are still adamant that the truth and circumstances behind the deaths of their loved ones is made known. Anne Marie Eaton reports
We want British Govt apologise
Mr Rooney's daughter Maura McKeever speaking this week said that the families wish for 2008 is to have the British Government admit to collusion, to apologise and to explain why they acted as they did.
"My hope is that England will come on board and admit to collusion. The Oireachtas hearings have already proven there was collusion but we want Gordon Brown to say yes, it happened.
"Tony Blair said there were two many files to go through and it would take a long time to go through them.
"Well, try campaigning for 32 years and then he will realise what a long time is."
Maura said that the families are very pleased with the memorial. "We wanted something to celebrate their lives. The needle, the ladder and the fireman's helmet, they all represent what our fathers meant to us."
She said that her mother has already seen the sculpture. "We drove up to it the other day and my mother thought it was lovely. She will be coming along to the ceremony as will Daddy's sister, who is 88.
Despite the memorial being a celebration of Hugh Watters and Jack Rooney's lives. Maura added that this time of year is still a very sad time for them 32 years on.
"It's not like a normal death in the family.
"We were never offered counselling and no-one wanted to bother with us.
"There is no closure and there will never be closure.
"We want to get to the truth and the Irish Government might want to get to the truth but until England admits collusion and explains why there can never be anything near closure for us."
Memorial to be unveiled by families
The memorial to those who died in the Dundalk bombing will be unveiled by their families at a ceremony taking place at 1.30pm today, Wednesday - the 32nd anniversary of the atrocity.
Dundalk Town Council Chairman Jim D'Arcy will speak at the event which is sure to be attended by many people in the town centre.
The bronze and stainless steel sculpture was erected by Dublin man Leo Higgins and depicts a number of items relating to Mr Rooney's and Mr Watters' life.
Bronze doves fly across a needle, commemorating Hugh Watters' life as a tailor and a ladder and fireman's helmet reflects Jack Rooney's work as a firefighter in the town.
The task of selecting the sculpture was given to both families as well as the Town Arts Officer.
Originally five submissions were submitted with a committee finally selecting Mr Higgins' design.
Previous anniversary ceremonies have taken place at 6.22pm, the time of the bombing. However, this year breaks away from that tradition as the families want the sculpture unveiled in daylight.
On December 19 retired firefighter and council lorry driver Jack Rooney went with a work colleague to the Condi Bar, now McGeogh's on Roden Place, (and) he left the bar at about 6.20pm.
His colleague said in a statement that within a minute or so of his leaving the pub, he heard a loud bang.
Kathleen McErlean, the proprietor of Kay's Tavern also said that in the aftermath she saw Jack Rooney lying on the footpath outside the door of the bar.
Seriously injured, he was taken to the Louth County Hospital but was incorrectly named on the list of the injured and it took some time for his family to locate him.
Jack Rooney died three days after the bombing and was buried on Christmas Eve.
Tailor Hugh Watters had left his business premises on Francis Street and it is thought he was on his way to Kay's Tavern to deliver clothing when the car bomb exploded.
At 6.45pm he was carried from the burning building but was pronounced dead on arrival at the Louth County Hospital.
His family went to the hospital but could not get into the building. Eventually one of them got inside and returned with the devastating news that Hugh had been killed. His family were told he would have died instantly in the blast.
Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.
Last edited: 22 December 2007 12:32:40
Copyright © 2007 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. All rights reserved. Revised: December 22, 2007 .