Dublin bombing Survivor dies after latest court battle
On the 17th May 1974 Derek Byrne was seriously injured by a Loyalist UVF bomb in the Parnell Street bomb in Dublin. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Jervis Street Hospital but miraculously he woke up 3 hours later in the morgue and was then rushed to the operating theatre for emergency life-saving surgery. No one was ever prosecuted in connection with the atrocity which killed 34 people and injured 300 more.
Almost a decade ago Derek instructed us to start the next phase of his fight for justice. We issued High court proceedings against the Police, Military and the Secretary of State for damages for conspiracy to murder and misfeasance amongst other torts in relation to collusion allegations around the Dublin Monaghan Bombings. In December 2018 Derek was part of a large group of families of victims and survivors who travelled to Belfast to listen as the High court ordered the release of documents in their case.
However the State immediately appealed the Order and issued motions to strike the case out. Nearly 5 years on Derek returned to the same court to hear the Defendants arguments to prevent discovery of material. He travelled wheelchair- bound on the train from Dublin. He did so knowing he was severely life limited and very much against medical advice. Five days later he succumbed to his many illnesses and died. His incredible survival of that bomb blast was bookended 50 years on by his defiant act of attending court when at deaths door.
There’s a real poignancy to his missing out by a few days on hearing the outcome of the court case. The recent positive soundings of the new chief Constable on sharing of Troubles linked information makes Derek’s passing even more acute. The anticipated impactful outworkings of Jon Boutcher’s culture change vision on information sharing is a welcome antidote to the last 5 years of attritional litigation on the Dublin – Monaghan bombings case.
However his pronouncement comes too late for Derek Byrne. He is the latest victim of a litigation system which has timed out on hundreds of other next of kin and survivors who never lived to see the end of their cases. The State default position of non – disclosure permeating all legacy litigation needs to end now. The new Chief Constable has sign posted a possible route to cut out the current labyrinthine discovery procedure which serves to drive up costs as well as prolong truth recovery and justice for Conflict bereaved and survivors. Non contentious documentation should now be disclosed immediately; closed court procedures engaging sensitive information should be expedited and discovery applications ought to be complied with rather than systemically resisted.
Derek Byrne’s sad passing really ought to be a timely reminder of the need for urgent implementation of the litigation culture change recently advocated.