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The Irish Independent, 28 September 2006:


Jack Rooney, victim of the Dundalk bombing of 19 December 1975L-R: Pictured here are Margaret English and Maura McKeever, daughters of the murdered victims of the loyalist car bombing at the Kay's Tavern bar in Dundalk, 19 December 1975. Maura holds a copy of the Barron Report into this and other atrocities during the 1970s.Hugh Watters, victim of the Dundalk bombing of 19 December 1975.

British spooks and loyalists 'colluded on bombings'

SENIOR gardai investigating the Dundalk bombing feared collusion existed between British security forces and loyalist terrorists suspected of a spate of cross-border bombings in the '70s.

But their concerns never went beyond garda headquarters, an Oireachtas committee was told yesterday.

Det Supt John Courtney and Det Sgt Owen Corrigan, both now retired, said they were astounded by the point-blank refusal of the head of the RUC's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the time to allow them to speak to an RUC constable whom they believed had information on a suspect connected with the December 1975 bombing of Kay's Tavern in Dundalk that killed two innocent bystanders.

When they appealed to the head of the CID to speak to the officer during a meeting in Belfast in 1979 they met with a wall of silence, the subcommittee on the Barron Report on the Bombing of Kay's Tavern heard yesterday.

Mr Corrigan, who was based in Dundalk at the time of the bombing, answered yes when asked by the committee if he believed there was a high level of collusion between the British army, the RUC and paramilitary groups - including a gang based out of Glenane, Co Armagh, which they strongly suspected of being behind the Dundalk and other bombings in the area at the time.

He said his suspicions were confirmed when the senior RUC officer's formerly co-operative demeanour suddenly changed when they probed him for information.

"He said you're not seeing that man and totally turned his heels and walked away. I'd say there was input from other quarters for his attitude to change so dramatically," he said.

Mr Courtney said he was also shocked at the lack of co-operation from the British Army concerning the bombings.

"The British armed forces wouldn't even take a phone call," he told the committee. "I was very surprised.

The committee is holding hearings into the fourth and final report by Judge Henry Barron into the bombing at Kay's Tavern in the town on December 19, 1975 which killed Hugh Watters, a 60-year-old tailor, and Jack Rooney, a 62-year-old lorry driver. No one has ever been charged in connection with their murders.

The report concluded that the bombing was carried out by loyalist extremists and some members of the British security forces were aware of their involvement, but it was unable to substantiate allegations of collusion. Sean Alyward, Secretary General of the Department of Justice, said the detectives did pass on their concerns to garda headquarters but "the (Justice) department was not notified of this lack of co-operation".

He also noted that new information given to a senior garda from the RUC in 1979 concerning the naming of suspects in the bombing was also passed on to garda headquarters but the RUC again refused to co-operate further and the matter was not looked into further by the Justice Department. Files on the garda investigation into the Dundalk bombing have also gone missing, he told the committee.

Despite this, the department did not feel that a fullscale inquiry into the Dundalk and other bombings at the time was warranted, he said. "The scale of unsolved murder cases in Northern Ireland is massive but I'm not persuaded that setting up a similar body would bring us any nearer to closure."

The hearings are adjourned until October 4.

Allison Bray

I Top I


Transcript of Dail Justice sub-committee hearings into the fourth Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing and other atrocities, day 2



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Revised: October 05, 2006 .