Government must challenge British on Dublin/Monaghan bombings and investigate missing Department of Justice files
Speaking during Questions to the Taoiseach in the Dáil today Sinn Féin's Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin called on the Government to challenge the British Government's refusal to co-operate with the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings. Deputy Ó Caoláin revealed to the house that he had received a response, which he described as 'extraordinary', from the British Government in which they stated contrary to Justice Barron's report that they had provided all relevant information from their files. He also questioned whether or not there had been an investigation in to the files that had gone missing from the Department of Justice relating to the bombings, which he said was a 'national scandal'.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"The Taoiseach will recall that my Sinn Féin colleagues and I, in the presence of the Taoiseach, raised the Barron Report with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair at our meeting in Downing Street on 17 December. The British Prime Minister promised to reply to me in detail. I have since received a letter of less than 200 words from British Minister of State Jane Kennedy. I have the letter here and it actually claims that all relevant information from British files has already been passed to Justice Barron. Does the Taoiseach agree with that extraordinary statement?
"Judge Barron states in his Report that the British Government's representatives told the Inquiry, at a meeting in London, that there are some 68,000 files of possible relevance in the Northern Ireland Office alone. Yet the Barron inquiry received only a ten-page letter from the British Secretary of State in February 2002 and a similar follow-up letter.
"Justice Barron says that no copies of original documents were supplied and that the scope of his report is limited as a result of the shortage of information from the British.
"Has the Taoiseach urged Tony Blair to ensure the release all relevant files? And crucially, has he urged him to instruct all those from the British side who are, or may be, summoned by the Oireachtas Committee to attend its hearings?
"As regards the ongoing, unfolding events in the joint committee's sittings, I note today, again in terms of Mr. Justice Barron's attendance, the line of questioning, what steps were taken by the Taoiseach, his Department and the various Departments with responsibility to try to establish what happened to the missing files? I note from the engagement taking place in the committee shortly before the resumption of business in the House this afternoon that not only were these files missing in original form but the duplicates at another location were also missing, which is an incredible position. Were they stolen, deliberately lost or destroyed? What steps have been taken by the Government to try to discover the files' location? If files relevant to any of the other tribunals or major investigative processes taking place in this State or to any former Member of the House or any other area of interest were missing, would it not be a national scandal? Is it not, therefore, a scandal that we have not been able to establish definitively what happened to the files which were in the care of Departments and other arms of the State? ENDS