Closure must be
given to families of victims killed in collusion-linked
bombings and shootings before the Irish General Election
expected in May or June, the Irish Government has said.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot
Ahern both met in Dublin with seven groups affected by 1970s
atrocities north and south of the Irish border.
The relatives are calling for public inquiries and believe
their cases have been strengthened by last month's
report by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan
which revealed collusion between the RUC and loyalist gunmen
in several killings.
Ahern said after the
90-minute meeting: "The Taoiseach indicated that he would
like to deal with this before the General Election."
It also emerged yesterday that Sinn Fein is holding its first
meeting next week with PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde
since it made the historic decision to back policing. The
party is also holding a collusion conference in Dublin on
Among those meeting the Taoiseach were relatives of members of
the Miami Showband, the 1975 Dundalk and Silverbridge bomb and
gun attacks, the Reavey and O'Dowd
families who each lost
three family members in early 1976, and relatives of the
victims of bomb attacks in Castleblayney and Keady in 1976.
The daughter of a man killed in the 1975 bombing of Dundalk
Tavern, revealed that the incident still causes her
Margaret English, daughter of Hugh Watters, said she believes
the case of her family has been strengthened by the
revelations in the Police Ombudsman's recent report.
"It is shocking that the British Government sent out
agents to kill my dad. I find that unbelievable," she
Mrs English also claimed that her family was badly treated by
the Garda and the state over the incident, but added that the
Taoiseach apologised for this yesterday.
She agreed that there should be a compensation scheme set up
for victims of collusion.
"I still have nightmares. I remember running around the
streets looking for my dad. There is a very human aspect.
"At the time I was bitter but my mother said to me if I
was bitter I would kill myself from the inside so I just shut
Mr Ahern said that the Government was waiting for a report by
barrister Patrick MacEntee on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings
- due on Tuesday.
Mr Ahern said: "He may ask for another extension, we hope
not but obviously that is a matter for him. If we get that
report in February, we will have to have a debate in the
Oireachtas and then decide what to do.
"About 3,000 people were killed in the Troubles and each
of those families have stories to tell.
"We are pushing the British very strongly on the need to
give comfort to these families in some way, it may not satisfy
everyone, but to draw a line under these cases once and for
"All of these cases are going to dog the peace process
and (British-Irish) relations forever if we don't
deal with them one way or another.
"There is a willingness to cooperate as much as possible.
If you look at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, it has gone on for
nearly nine years and had half a billion pounds sterling spent
He said the victims` families would be consulted before any
action was taken.
I am the brother of a victim who was murdered as a result of
collusion. My family have been down many times to Dublin and
met with Mr Ahern, IFA officials and other ministers who held
his position in the past, we have also met the Taoiseach too
on a number of occasions. Take the British govt on for gods
sake and stop giving families lip service. Many families have
been down to seek Irish govt intervention and support for over
25yrs now. What does that tell us families about Irish govt
diplomatic intervention or redress? The British govt needs to
be seriously tackled on this issue Mr Ahern.