KRW LAW statement on Dublin Monaghan Bombing

17/5/24 marks the 50th Anniversary of the biggest loss of life during The Troubles. No one has ever been prosecuted or held accountable for the atrocity. Many of the next of kin and survivors have been fighting for justice since then. Their legal battle includes a High Court civil action against the State alleging collusion and failure to investigate.

 

After all this time hopes were raised in 2018 when we obtained a high court order directing the State to hand over all their documents after which they appealed the Discovery order and applied to try and have the case struck out. They did so for very technical legal reasons including limitation, jurisdiction reasons and alleging insufficient evidence linking the security forces to the perpetrator Loyalist killer gang.

 

After a tortuous 6 legal battle on 11 April the court dismissed the British Governments attempt to have the case thrown out. In doing so the court made it clear that such a motion was initiated far too soon. The court needed to hear all the evidence before contemplating such a draconian step.

 

Speaking on the eve of the anniversary Solicitor Kevin Winters KRW LAW said,

 

“ The recent court success couldn’t be any more timely coming as it does within a few weeks of the 50th anniversary. It means we can now revisit the discovery order and we can now proceed to a long overdue full hearing.

 

It’s also timely given recent positive commentary by the Chief Constable Jon Boutcher on the need for a revised victim centered approach on Troubles related cases. I welcome this and his specific endorsement of the need for greater accountability by State agencies where wrong has occurred. This couldn’t be a more timely antidote to the approach taken by the State to date in the Dublin Monaghan litigation.

 

I am confident the 6 year rearguard attempt to throw this case out would never have occurred under Jon Boutcher’s watch. If proof be needed we need look no further than his recent interim Kenova report on the alleged agent Stakeknife.

 

Kenovas citing of the need for greater transparency hopefully signposts a long overdue change of policy on Conflict agitation. However not soon enough for Derek Byrne and his family. Derek was 14 when he was blown across the forecourt of a garage near Talbot street. He was left for dead in the morgue but miraculously stayed alive and for the following 50 years he waited for some sort of justice to be delivered.

 

He was still waiting when he died shortly after attending the last hearing of his case in November 2023. The States” Russian Retreat” approach to its Discovery obligations and the case generally timed out Derek in a way a Loyalist bomb couldn’t. This is not right. It’s entirely inconsistent with the victim – centric approach advocated by Jon Boutcher.

 

Unfortunately Derek Byrne isn’t alone. Many others have passed away since the case started 10 years ago.

 

Their legacy will be the survival of the Dublin Monaghan Belfast high court collusion action.

 

The comprehensive ruling delivered last month complements precisely what the new chief constable has recently endorsed in Kenova. If his well intentioned expressed views are to take root then all current legally driven State law fare needs to cease immediately . It is systemic and punitive. It is anything but victim centered.

 

Not content with trying to deny Justice to the Dublin Monaghan families and survivors the States lawyers are trying to stop many others getting a hearing date. Included in that list are :-

 

  • Damian Walsh murdered in 1993
  • Malachy Carey murdered in 1992
  • Patrick Heenan killed in 1973
  • Joe Holbeach seriously injured in Enniskillen Remembrance Day PIRA bomb in 1987

All these cases involve allegations of collusion and negligence together with systemic failure to investigate.

 

They all share a common theme of the existence of compelling evidence by way of PONI reports or otherwise. The State have adopted the same mantra as that unsuccessfully undertaken in Dublin Monaghan.

 

It’s time to withdraw attritional time consuming and costly applications which drag on for years and stop families accessing Justice. It’s time to implement the wishes of the chief constable when he declares that families of victims and survivors should come first.

 

We welcome the recent motion passed in the Dail calling for “an independent international judicial figure to have access to all the documents” in the case. However the latest call simply replicates all similarly themed previous calls. That’s all very well intentioned but it would have greater clout if The Tanaiste and the Irish Government were to row in behind the families in their ongoing litigation fight through the courts.

 

Specifically they can support the call for the British State to comply with the Discovery court order made 6 years ago. There’s already an independent judicial figure in place. A Belfast High Court judge has been waiting for 6 years to access all the documents. We have sent the recent ruling to Michael Martin and now invite him to consider it. An informed renewed call can then be made for the Irish Government to urge compliance with the court order to release the documents. Only then will the forgotten victims and survivors get long overdue closure.”

 

NIMaster7