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The Irish News, 6 July 2006:

Relatives want 1975 bombing inquiry


 By Valerie Robinson

Southern Correspondent

The family of a man killed in the 1975 Dundalk bomb last night (Wednesday) called for a full public inquiry into the loyalist attack in the wake of the publication of the final Barron Report.

Jack Rooney's relatives said former Supreme Court judge Henry Barron had gone further than before towards stating that loyalists colluded with British security forces in an attack.

The judge also carried out investigations into a number of other loyalist attacks, including bombings in Silverbridge, Castleblayney, Dublin Airport and the Miami Showband massacre.

He said there was a "high probability of collusion between loyalists and security forces".

Although allegations of collusion were impossible to prove "by their [security forces] attitudes towards loyalist violence and towards violent members of their own forces, some senior members allowed a climate to develop in which loyalist subversives could believe that they could attack with impunity".

"However, there is no evidence that senior members of the security forces were involved in any way in the bombing," he said.

Jack Rooney and a second man, Hugh Watters, both in their sixties, were killed when a car bomb exploded outside Kay's Tavern on Crowe Street in Dundalk on December 19 1975.

Mr Rooney's daughter Maura McKeever said she believed the Barron report supported the families' calls for a full public inquiry.

Ms McKeever welcomed the judge's inference that collusion had taken place but insisted that only a full inquiry would satisfy the bereaved.

"We're entitled to a full public inquiry. My mother Mary Rooney [aged 88] has always wanted one. She was treated very badly after the bombing," she said.

"She had no contact from the gardai or anyone else. She deserves answers."

In his report, Mr Justice Barron revealed that potentially crucial evidence in the case had gone missing from Garda files and he complained of a lack of cooperation by the British authorities.

Alan Brecknell, whose 32-year-old father Trevor died in a gun and bomb attack on Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge on the same day as the Dundalk blast, said questions remained about the initial RUC investigation.

Mr Justice Barron gave details of Special Branch records of 1978 interviews with suspects later named as the bombers by former RUC man John Weir.

Among the suspects named by the judge were UDR member Robert McConnell and RUC Reservist Laurence McClure.

"I'd like to know why the information the police had wasn't pursued sufficiently at the time," Mr Brecknell said. He called for a Truth Commission to be set up to provide all the families with the answers they have sought for three decades.

July 8, 2006

This article appeared first in the July 6, 2006 edition of the Irish News