Today, 17 May 2024,  it will be 50 years since the the greatest  loss of life during the Troubles three bombs exploded in Dublin and a fourth exploded in Monaghan. They killed 34 civilians, including an unborn child, and injured almost 300.

No one has been prosecuted or held  to accountable for the atrocity of the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings. Many of the relatives of the those killed and the survivors have been fighting for justice since then. Their legal battles include a High Court civil action taken in Belfast against the British State which alleges collusion with paramilitaries and failures to effectively investigate the bombings.

After many years hopes were raised in 2018 when KRW obtained a High Court Discovery Order directing the British State to hand over all the documents relating to the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings.  The British State appealed against the granting of the Discovery Order and applied to try and have the civil action Struck Out by the High Court. This challenge was on the basis of technical legal reasons including limitation, lack of jurisdiction and an allegation of insufficient evidence linking the British Security Forces to the perpetrators of the bombs within a Loyalist paramilitary organisation.

After a tortuous six year legal battle, on 11 April 2024, the High Court dismissed the British State attempt to have the civil action struck out. In doing so the High Court made it clear that such this motion had been initiated far too soon by the British State.

The High Court wanted to hear and assess all the evidence before contemplating such a draconian step as a Strike Out of such an important legal application.

Speaking on the eve of the 50 years since the bombings, Kevin Winters, Solicitor and Founding Partner, KRW said:

“The recent success in the High Court for relatives of the victims and survivors could not be any more timely, coming as it does within a few weeks of the 50 years since the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings.

It means we can now revisit the Discovery Order and we can now proceed to a long overdue full hearing.

It is also timely given recent positive commentary by the Chief Constable of the PSNI, 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 transparency and accountability by all State-agencies where wrong has occurred.

This could not be a more timely antidote to the approach taken by the British State to date in the Dublin Monaghan-Bombings litigation.

I am confident that the six year rearguard attempt to stall and Strike Out this case would never have occurred under Jon Boutcher’s watch. If proof be needed we need look no further than the recent Operation Kenova Interim Report on the activities of the alleged agent “Stakeknife”.

Operation Kenova cited the need for greater transparency and hopefully signposts a long overdue change of policy on Conflict resolution by way of litigation.

However, this 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, Dublin. He was left for dead in the morgue but miraculously survived and lived. For the following 50 years Derek waited for some sort of truth, justice and accountability to be delivered.

Derek Byrne was still waiting when he died shortly after attending the last hearing of the case in November 2023. The “Russian Retreat” approach of the British State to its Discovery Order obligations, and to the case generally,  timed out Derek in a way a Loyalist bomb could not. This is not right. It is  entirely inconsistent with the victim – centric approach advocated by Jon Boutcher.

Unfortunately, other Dublin-Monaghan Bombings  victims, John Molloy, John Byrne and Thomas O’Brien, have also died. Part of their Legacy will be the survival of the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings High Court collusion civil legal action.

The definitive ruling delivered last month by the High Court in Belfast complements precisely what the new Chief Constable has recently endorsed in the Operation Kenova Interim Report.

If his well-intentioned expressed views are to take root then all current State ‘law-fare’ needs to cease immediately. It is systemic and punitive. It is anything but victim-centered or Conflict-resolution orientated.

Not content with trying to deny justice to the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings 1974, relatives of the victims and the remaining survivors,  the lawyers employed by the British State are trying to stop many others getting a hearing date.

Included in that list are: –

Damian Walsh murdered in 1993 at the Diary Farm in west Belfast by the UDA;

Malachy Carey murdered in 1992 in Ballymoney by Loyalists;

Patrick Heenan killed in 1973 in east Belfast by convicted Loyalist murderer and state-agent, Albert ‘Ginger’ Baker;

Joe Holbeach seriously injured in Enniskillen Remembrance Day PIRA bomb in 1987.

All these cases involve allegations of collusion, breaches of statutory duties, negligence and other tortious civil wrongs and systemic failures to conduct effective investigations, at the time and now.

All these cases share a common theme of the existence of compelling evidence of collusion provided by way of Police Ombudsman Report-Statements, PSNI HET and LIB Review Reports, inquest findings, and other official sources.

The British State has pursued the same tactics and narratives as those unsuccessfully undertaken in response to the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings 1974 litigation.

It is now time to withdraw British State opposition to attritional time consuming and expensive legal applications which prevent families of victims and survivors accessing justice and truth.

It is now time to implement the views of the Chief Constable when he declares that families of victims and survivors should come first. Let the 50 years since the tragedy of Dublin-Monaghan Bombings be a watershed moment in Legacy litigation.

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 demands. That is well-intentioned but it would have greater power if the Tánaiste and the Irish Government were to row in behind the families in their ongoing litigation fight through the courts.

Specifically,  the Irish government could support the call for the British government to comply with the Discovery Orders of the court order made six years ago. There is already an independent judicial figure in place. A High Court Judge in Belfast has been waiting for six years to access all the documents.

We have sent the recent pledge of Micheál 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 High Court Discovery Order to release the documents.  Only then will the forgotten victims and survivors get long overdue possibility of closure.”