Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Wreaths have been laid at a monument in Dublin to mark the 49th anniversary of four bombs that killed more than 30 people and injured almost 300 others.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said it was important that governments put victims and their families “centre-stage” before he laid the wreath and addressed the ceremony on Wednesday.

On May 17th, 1974, three no-warning bombs went off across Dublin city centre and one in Monaghan town.

No-one has ever been convicted over the bombings that have been blamed on loyalist paramilitaries.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin attends a wreath-laying ceremony in Dublin to mark the 49th anniversary of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. Photo: PA Images

An official memorial in Dublin honours the 35 victims of the bombings, which include two unborn babies.

Martha O’Neill, whose husband Edward was killed and two sons were injured in one of the blasts in Dublin, lost her unborn baby girl Martha in the aftermath of the atrocity.

Another victim, Colette Doherty, had also been pregnant when she was killed.

Mr Martin told those gathered: “We remember that summer afternoon in 1974 — the weekend was fast approaching, and shoppers and workers rushed to finish up for the week, to catch a lift home or meet up with friends.

“It was Friday, rush hour in Dublin city. As trains arrived and departed a busy Connolly Station, Cleary’s clock rang out the hour. With no warning, within minutes, three bombs rang out across the city.”

He said that it was “essential that we not lose sight of the atrocities of the past”, and said “a shadow had been cast” by the losses and grief of the families searching for truth and justice.

Mr Martin said that days like today were “very, very difficult” for the families and anyone affected by the violence of The Troubles, “particularly in terms of unanswered questions”.

“I’m very conscious of this as the British government is coming forward with a legacy bill which we are opposed to, and which all political parties on the island of Ireland are opposed to,” he said.

“I think it’s very important that in anything governments do, victims have to be centre and the families have to be centre-stage.

“That’s why the remembrance today of the worst atrocity during that period is very, very important for the families and the generations that come after because on this day 49 years ago the world changed for many, many families, for many, many communities and its important that we never forget that and that we channel that huge reality of loss into doing the right thing by families of victims.”

Minister for Justice Simon Harris said: “It is hard to believe that on a day such as this all those years ago, ordinary people going about their daily lives had those lives so callously and brutally attacked.

“But, like so many other incidents of violence on this island during the Troubles, that was the tragic reality for those caught up in the bombings on that day.

“The scale of this atrocity will always be remembered.

“It was the greatest loss of life on a single day of the Troubles and it continues to affect countless families.

“The Government is fully committed to seeking out the truth behind those events and, hopefully, to secure some measure of comfort for the victims’ families and the survivors.

 

“Twenty-five years on from the Good Friday Agreement, it is important that we remember what has been achieved since 1998, but also challenge ourselves to take up the crucial work of reconciliation.

“The Good Friday Agreement recognised the need for a particular acknowledgement of the position of victims.”

Last week, Mr Harris met with the families of the Disappeared, including Oliver McVeigh, the brother of missing 19-year-old Columba McVeigh.

“So many on this island have been affected by the multitude of horrific acts that were carried out during the Troubles and the Irish Government will not forget our duty to victims and survivors,” Mr Harris said.

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