Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Tuesday he has received the results of a long-awaited investigation into car bombings that claimed 33 lives on one day in 1974 — the deadliest terrorist strike in Irish history.
But Ahern said the government would not publish the report by lawyer Patrick MacEntee until he could show it to the full Cabinet, including the attorney general, to determine whether details needed to be censored.
Nobody was ever charged in connection with the bombings May 17, 1974. Nearly simultaneously and without warning, three cars exploded amidst crowds of Dublin shoppers and commuters walking toward a train station. A fourth detonated about an hour later outside a pub in the border town of Monaghan.
An outlawed anti-Catholic group from Northern Ireland, the Ulster Volunteer Force, later claimed responsibility, but suspicions have long lingered that soldiers or police from the British territory were involved.
"The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were a terrible atrocity and it is important that we uncover the truth of what happened," said Ahern, who departed Tuesday for the United States for St. Patrick's Day-related events.
The government tasked MacEntee in 2005 with finding out why Ireland's national police force, the Garda Siochana, closed down its investigation in 1974 and failed to follow up important leads; what key documents of evidence have disappeared and whether they can be found; and whether government and police procedures today would prevent these foul-ups from happening again.
MacEntee's work was originally supposed to take just six months, but the deadline for delivery was repeatedly moved — partly because the lawyer said the British government was refusing to provide requested intelligence documents and former intelligence officers for interview.
The Irish government assigned MacEntee to the case after a report by a retired judge, Henry Barron, concluded that the police and government in 1974 failed to seek the extradition of Protestant extremists from Northern Ireland who were suspected of involvement. Barron also found that key government and police files on the atrocity had disappeared without explanation.